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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry



Compelling tale of family facing racism in '30s Mississippi.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable

Racial slurs and mild religious oaths.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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. 

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.

Families can talk 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

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
Number of pages:276
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

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Teen, 13 years old Written byWaluigi77 May 27, 2011

The suckiest book ever, do not allow your children to read this book

I am a 7th grader reviewing this. First of all, I was forced to read this at school and i read the whole book and just finished it today, IT SUCKED!!! Do not allow your kids to read this book because the N word was used 19 times throughout the book and not once the N word was censored and the H word was used uncensored also! This book has several racist remarks. The chapters are WAAAY TOO LONG!!(I AM NOT BEING DUMB!), This book overall doesn't deserve the newberry award and it should not be considered a "Childrens book". If you are looking for a book for your child to read, Get The BFG instead.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 8 and 11 year old Written by4hunters August 16, 2010
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
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