Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Common Sense Media says

A family deals with racism in a Mississippi town.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 
Newbery Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
Positive messages

Racial slurs; the book portrays -- but does not condone -- a racist society.

Positive role models

Children disobey their teacher, sabotage a school bus out of revenge,
fight, and cheat on an exam; characters break into a store and steal.

Violence

Three men are set on fire; children are whipped by teacher and parents; children fight with each other; a teenage boy is beaten by some older men; one man is shot. People are killed; the family is threatened by a white neighbor and by fire; a mob threatens people; and there are vague references to rape.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Mild religious oaths.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that with lyrical, compelling prose, the story builds to a fiery climax, but it's sometimes sidetracked by long sections of background information.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Nightriders, arson, lynching--in the course of one turbulent year, 9-year-old Cassie Logan's family is traumatized by inequality and racism in their small Mississippi town. Yet the novel effectively conveys, even in the midst of violence and hatred, the importance of family loyalty, as well as pride in the face of adversity.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Readers will share Cassie's outrage and cheer her courage. Even though she uncovers some pretty scary things, readers will be comforted knowing that she belongs to a strong and supportive family. It's this loyalty, love, and intense pride that enable the Logans to endure in the racist culture of 1930s Mississippi.

Mildred D. Taylor doesn't pull any punches as she describes terrorism by nightriders, burnings and near lynchings. This book should be read with, or introduced by, a parent or teacher, both for the disturbing content and for help with undefined references, such as sharecropping and Reconstruction. ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY is the best kind of historical fiction, in which powerful lessons from the past are encased in such an absorbing story with such compelling characters that children don't feel like they're "studying" history at all.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about injustice.

  • In what ways does the community try to keep Cassie's family and others like them in check?

  • Why is land so important to them?

Book details

Author:Mildred D. Taylor
Illustrator:Jerry Pinkney
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Penguin Group
Publication date:January 1, 1976
Number of pages:276
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

This review of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 8 and 11 year old Written by4hunters August 16, 2010
AGE
11
QUALITY
 
I love this book. I loved it when I was in the target audience, I loved using it as a read-aloud with middle schoolers in Georgia as part of our advising time, and I loved listening to it on audiobook in the car with my children last week. There is plenty to learn about the time, but there are also ongoing themes about children choosing their friends, how to be a good friend and an honorable person, how individuals can empower themselves and each other in an unjust world. Over and over we understand that one does not have to act a certain way, just because one is part of a certain group. We also come to understand that even those who seem to be in opposition to us may also have redeeming features; that we may work together on the things we *do* have in common. Contrary to Jesusrulz666, I found that the messages throughout were about individuals making daily choices about themselves, their friends, their actions, and about how those choices affect both the people around them and their communities one step removed; not about government knowing best at all. My younger daughter is just 8, so hearing this book all at once (in 2 7-hour car rides) with everyone together for stop-and-explain times, worked for her. She would not have been ready to read it on her own, and she's already had some exposure to Jim Crow and desegregation (notably Ruby Bridges book and movie). My older daughter (11) had already read it before we listened.
Teen, 13 years old Written bymiss rocker October 9, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
I loved it. The book is educational as it is based on life in mississippi in the 1940's and the charectors in the book are good role models as they stand up for what they believe is right , they have self respect for them selves and show it to others that deserve it to. It may have racist comments in them but there are people from both of the race's communities that disagree with it. The book shows that racism is wrong and they you should'nt accept it . Mildred Taylor has portrayed many charcters in this book using them to show about the morals and the ways of living in ' the old south ' .
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byavidcritc April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

very important but sometimes boring

i think this is a really important book for kids to read, especially if they are racist. it would really make a difference to their attitude if they started looking at the people they scorn (or worse) as just that- people. however, it might have been more effective if the author didn't bog you down with lots of background history and information that doesn't directly apply to the story- it kind of turned me off.

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