A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- Author: Mildred D. Taylor
- Illustrator: Jerry Pinkney
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Penguin Group
- Publication date: January 1, 1976
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 276
- Award: Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: June 4, 2020
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