Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Book review by
Norah Caroline Piehl, Common Sense Media
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Compelling tale of family facing racism in '30s Mississippi.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 79 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows what life was like for African-Americans in the pre-civil rights South, including the reality of lynchings, mob violence, and other threats. The book portrays -- but does not condone -- a racist society. 

Positive Messages

Family loyalty, love, and pride can help you endure the worst things that come your way. No one should be judged by the color of their skin. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cassie is courageous and loyal to her family. Her parents do their best to protect their children, stick together, and not give up hope. 


Three men are set on fire; children are whipped by teacher and parents; children fight with each other; a teen 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. Children fight and sabotage a school bus out of revenge. Characters break into a store and steal.


Racial slurs and mild religious oaths.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mildred D. Taylor's Newbery Award-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a lyrical, compelling story of 9-year-old narrator, Cassie Logan, and her family in Depression-era Mississippi. The 2016, 40th anniversary edition (pictured here) features cover art by Caldecott Honor-winner Kadir Nelson and an introduction by Jacqueline Woodson. The story builds to a fiery climax and features violence motivated by racial prejudice. A family is threatened by a white neighbor and by fire; a mob threatens people; three men are set on fire; children are whipped by teacher and parents; a teen boy is beaten by some older men; one man is shot; and there are vague references to rape. It's a meaningful tale of one family's struggle to keep their small piece of land and maintain their dignity under extremely challenging circumstances. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAyaBCon March 29, 2012

The Use of Profanity

All the complaints about the use of the "n" word worry me. The story is set in 1930's Deep South. What words did you think the racist white folks... Continue reading
Adult Written bynutter b. May 18, 2017

Very Good Book

This book is very good, and very well written. Hard to follow. Beware the language, but it is for historical context which I like (The authenticness).
Teen, 13 years old Written byMaddythekitty0 January 24, 2021

Overall good book but has a lot of bad words/stuff

I love the book but it has a lot of racial slurs in it such as the n word so I recommend it to 11 and older.
Kid, 10 years old February 18, 2020

Awesome book!

Really good book that really makes you feel empathy for the characters. The theme is so powerful. There is a lot of swearing and extreme language that no one un... Continue reading

What's the story?

ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY recounts one turbulent year in the life of 9-year-old Cassie Logan's family as they're traumatized by inequality and racism in their small Mississippi town. Yet the novel effectively conveys, even in the midst of violence and hatred (including nightriders, arson, and lynching), the importance of family loyalty, as well as pride in the face of adversity.


Is it any good?

Readers will share Cassie's outrage and cheer her courage as she faces racism and violence in this compelling story. 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.

Author 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 to help explain 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 unforgettable characters that children don't feel like they're "studying" history at all.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about racism in 1930s Mississippi and now. What has changed since then? What challenges still remain?

  • What do you think of the violence in the story? Did you know things like lynchings and mob violence went on? 

  • Why is having land so important to Cassie's family?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of the African-American expereince

Themes & Topics

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