It is in a kid book. It says, "thunder rumbled". I wonder if it is ok as it is, or the article "the" should be mandatory for the sake of the story.

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    It might be helpful to include the complete sentence or paragraph in which "thunder rumbled" was found. – Em. Aug 1 '16 at 6:09

Thunder rumbled is correct. If you are talking about specific thunder, then you would use The.

Because thunder is an uncountable noun, it does not need a prefix.

Countable, not a specific cat.

A cat meowed.

Countable, a specific cat (The cat because we are talking about the same cat as the previous sentence):

He saw a cat. The cat meowed.

Uncountable, not specific thunder:

Thunder rumbled.

Uncountable, specific thunder (The thunder because we are talking about the same thunder as the previous sentence):

There was a crash of thunder above his head. The thunder was scary.

If there is a storm or similar already, you might use the thunder to talk about the thunder of that storm:

There was a terrible storm. The thunder was the loudest he had ever heard.

This means The thunder [of the terrible storm].

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