Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Mildred D. Taylor

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Synopsis

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry we published in 1976 and the next year received the Newbery Medal for Children Literature. The book is about an African American family from rural Mississippi in 1933. The story is told through the eyes of nine year old Cassie. The family deals racism, injustice and inequality in the fight to keep their land.

Review from Amazon.com by Trevor M

Teaching in a primarily white school district(which is just a fact, not a problem), I enjoy teaching novels that bring knowledge of various groups' struggles, beliefs, and similarities that lead to the fact that "we are not as different as some choose to think." In teaching Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, I felt that my students felt sorry for Tom Robinson, but we needed to have a better understanding of where Tom was coming from. The two novels are very similar in settings, themes, point of view being that of a young girl, conflicts, and overall emotional impact they have on their readers. Kids love Little Man's strength that stretches beyond his size. They admire Stacey's confidence and loyalty to his family, friends, and people. Readers view T.J. with hatred, then confusion, and finally sympathy to this lost child...who can be compared with Harper Lee's Tom Robinson. Many of my students can relate to Jeremy Simms, who respects & enjoys the Logan family more than his own. And then there's Cassie, the narrator. Kids find Cassie to be the most complex of the Logans. Taylor presents Cassie as someone who is naive to discrimination(for lack of a better term). Often my students would write that they wished they could jump into the pages of the text and explain to Cassie what was going on so they could save her from further problems, as we see Big Ma do. My kids also wanted to just "give her a big hug." This book is a great read aloud & the sequels to follow are good as well. Let the Circle be Unbroken is #2 and also goes well with Harper's Tom Robinson's fate. The Road to Memphis is #3 and good as well, although I found the first two the best!

Review From the Gurdian



Possibly the most heart-rending story I have ever read, Roll of Thunder brought tears of both laughter and sorrow to my eyes. Growing up in Mississippi in the prejudiced years of the 1900's Cassie is a tween black girl who is completely innocent to the racism her mother and her father suffer everyday.

She goes to an all-black school, where her mother is a prominent teacher and works and plays happily back home, never dreaming how much harassment she will receive because of her color.

When she starts to get heckled by the white children, riding by in their shiny bus while she trudges to school splashing through mud and rain, Cassie decides to take a stand. But she has yet to learn about the prejudice which ruled America in the early 1900s.

I won't write any more because I want you to read this book, and to understand how powerful it really is.

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D Taylor - review. (2011). Retrieved February 06, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2011/oct/28/roll-of-thunder-hear-my-cry-mildred-taylor-review.

Review by a 12 year old

This book was one of my favorite's when I read it in my 6th grade class. At first, because of the language, my class giggled and wondered at how we could ever be reading this book in my small, catholic school. Right away my teacher told us to grow up or get out. This is an important book. Some feel it is too detailed and racist to be introduced to such a young crowd. But kids are introduced to these things regardless and usually much sooner than 6th grade whether it be via classmates or their own families. Kids should learn about things such racism, lynching, lying, and everything else parents oppose in this book. They should be taught so they can appreciate people different from themselves. They should be taught so they can understand that although horrible things were done before their time and to this day take place, even if in a different form, they can change how things happen from now on even in small ways. When I was in class reading this, and it was read outloud by the students, my teacher would not let us skip over or censor any words. The swear words we didn't mind saying and smiled to ourselves when we said them. The racist words, and there were so many, made us uncomfortable, nervous, ashamed, sympathetic, and eventually respectful. This book confronts uncomfortable subjects. But uncomfortable subjects usually are the most important.


Parent reviews for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry | Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/roll-of-thunder-hear-my-cry/user-reviews/adult

Review by Jennifer Kendall

In my reading experience, the best historical stories are born from unique family histories, and Mildred D. Taylor has plenty. Taking the stories passed down to her from her grandfather, Taylor has given young readers an authentic story of a southern Black family not typically represented in historical fiction.

The Logans are a hardworking, intelligent, loving, and independent family. As Taylor expresses in an author interview, it was important to her that Black children understand that they have people in their history who cherished these values. These values are passed down to Cassie and her brothers who see their parents exercise restraint and wise judgment in very difficult situations.

The struggle, survival, and determination to do what’s right in the face of injustice make this story inspiring. In addition, Cassie as narrator brings an element of righteous indignation to her character that will make readers applaud her and yet worry for her at the same time. While Cassie is angry and resents the subservient apologies she is forced to admit to a white girl, she’s spunky enough to find more subtle means of getting her revenge. Cassie’s comic moments upset her older brother who knows that such childish antics could lead to physical harm to their family. The Logan children quickly learn that life isn’t all about school and games as they realize they are targets of racial hatred.

Although this is Taylor’s second book about the Logan family, she has gone back over the years to write more books, creating an eight volume series. If readers enjoy reading richly detailed, emotionally moving stories about the human spirit, then they’ll enjoy this award-winning, unique story about the Logan family. Because of the historical value of this story and the opportunity it provides for middle grade readers to learn more about the consequences of racial discrimination, I recommend this book for ages 10-up.

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2016, from http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/productreviews/fr/Roll-Of-Thunder-Hear-My-Cry-Book-Review.htm

When was the book challenged or banned, and why?

Role of Thunder Hear My Cry was first banned in the early 1990’s. It was removed from a high school reading list in Louisiana because of “racial bias” and was challenged in 1998 by a middle school in California for the same reason.


This book has been challenged several times, and all for the same reasons language and racial issues. This book does use racial slurs and the “N” word. There is also violence. It talks about a friend of the family being burned and another character that was severely injured. Several of the challenges stated that the content was to mature for younger children.

Is this the only book the author has had challenged/banned?

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry was the only book I could find by Mildred D. Taylor that was challenged or banned. I found that interesting because this is the second book in the series. There are several other books about the same family in the same location. I know that a lot of schools have this book on their reading list for middle school, so it has had a lot of exposure, that may be why it has been challenged so many times and her other books have not.

What benefits does this book have for p-12 students and what is something a teacher could do with this book?

One of the benefits of this book is teaching compassion and understanding. While you are reading this book you become very close to Cassie and her family. It is hard to watch people treat them so poorly and unfairly. Also it is a good book to help children understand racism and segregation. Teachers can use this book to provided different examples of how racism and segregation effected Cassie and her family. This is a great book to use when teaching about the 30’s and the different laws that affected African Americans. This book could be used from 5th grade all the way up to 12th in both language arts classes and social studies classes. I have used this book in a 6th grade classroom and student’s eyes were open to the way people were treated. They think that there was slavery and then Rosa Parks, and the in between people were just there. They don’t understand even though slavery was abolished people still treated African Americans poorly as if they were still slaves. This book is a great book to teach history along with great literature.

Have you read the book? If not, read it and include your personal reaction in the presentation.

This is one of my favorite books I have ever read. It is a hard book to read and understand for younger children. However, with that being said, I really think every child should read this book. I have taught this book for a few years when I was 6th grade teacher and my students loved it. I did, however, have some parents complain about the language in the book. The language is harsh, and the description of some of the treatment of others is also harsh, but the message out weighs the harshness. I think this is a great book to use in the classroom. It is a historical fiction and the historical part is something skimmed passed in social studies classes. This book it a great way to understand the culture of the south in the 30’s.