2012 Book 143: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
Reason for Reading:This is my fourth and final book for Book Journey’s blog tour for Banned Books Week. This year, I read only YA books that I happened to have lying around in my TBR pile…it was fun! 🙂
In this Newbery Medal-winner, fourth grader Cassie Logan learns that African Americans are treated as second class citizens in Depression-era Mississippi. She and her family rebel the nasty Wallace brothers by arranging a boycott of their store. Wallace-brothers-and-friends respond with horrifying violence. This was an amazing book. The narrative was engaging, the characters were lovable, and suspense was high–I sincerely worried about what the ugly white-folk were going to do. While reading, I was struck by how similar in theme this book was to all the unoriginal dystopias that are being cranked out by the YA market these days. It was about a young girl realizing that her society was not as wonderful as she had grown up thinking…it was about fighting for your rights against a seemingly hopeless situation. But, wait! This book was actually meaningful because it was describing a REAL situation! Something tragic that people actually suffered! That makes Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry a much more powerful book than any of those dystopias can ever hope to be. I think an intelligent fourth grader who loves dystopias couldn’t help but love this book as well.
(Oh, wait, sorry, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry IS missing the cheesy cliche love triangle that YA dystopias all seem to have these days. Sorry girls!)
This book was banned because of racism, violence, and language (including the use of the infamous n-word). There is no doubt at all–This book HAD racism, violence, and the n-word. However, the purpose of the book was to show young readers the horrors of racism–so that they could learn a bit of history AND learn to be better people themselves. This book is not going to make children into racists. The bad influence of parents, role models, and friends lead to racism. This book, with the right discussion, will be a good influence on our children. Yes, the book has scary scenes in it, but nothing most fourth graders couldn’t handle. We can’t protect our children from the real world indefinitely, and as far as I’m concerned it’s better for them to know what it’s like than to enter it in compete innocence and immediately have their fresh young spirits crushed. My philosophy–breed them tough, because sheltering only hurts them later!
12 thoughts on “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor”
I LOVED this post! I don't believe I've read this book, but you said so many other things that I'm constantly thinking 🙂
I'm going to look for this, I think my daughter (and I) would enjoy it.
That is a new title to me but I second Jennifer;s thoughts, I am going to look for this one too. It sounds like a powerful read.
Thanks you for all your participation this week in banned books week. It has been fun to read your posts.
Great post! I believe I read this one as a kid. I absolutely agree—kids are not born with racism and hate in their hearts, it is learned by example. Historical-fiction literature is not a threat of corruption! Thanks for sharing.
It makes me angry that books are so easily banned because of their use of the n-word. If only people would read the book first and decide whether it serves any purpose…! And I'm not even American, the n-word in Dutch does not contain this implicit meaning.
Thanks for sharing this review!
This is one of those children's classics that I missed growing up. I obviously must remedy that ASAP! Great review 🙂
I hadn't actually heard of this book before, but it sounds excellent.
You are right, and I think it is true of most banned books – the horrifying topics they address (like violence and racism) are meant to show just how horrifying they are, not to serve as a model of behavior!
Great review – thanks!
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Thanks everyone for stopping by!
Jennifer: I hope you and your daughter enjoy it!
Sheila: I enjoyed participating! Thanks for organizing the blog event.
Kristin: It makes you wonder if people plan on editing their children's history lessons as well, doesn't it?
Chinoiseries: I agree–people need to take the context into consideration. And a lot of people don't even read the book before they make complaints! They just hear nasty stuff about it, and then make a judgement.
Aarti: I'm not sure how I missed it either. It happens, I guess!
Thanks Sue! I'm afraid people use the book-banning option as a replacement for communication…
Thanks for a great post on a great book that I had almost forgotten about. We read it in my English class at my (British) school when we were about 13/14. I remember the same sensation of dread for what might happen. I'm surprised at how many people hadn't heard of this book, and I wonder now how it made it onto the syllabus of a semi-rural British secondary school. I suspect it has something to do with the fantastic English teacher we had.
Also, I love the reference to the incessant love triangles YA fiction for girls involves nowadays. When I was reading YA (from about 10-15), there didn't seem to be any of that going on, but perhaps I just always turned my readerly nose up about it!
La Graciada: I'm surprised that there were a couple of people who hadn't heard of it as well. I thought it was standard stock reading in public schools (at least in the US). But it might not be anymore? *shrug*
My general impression of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry has certainly improved over the years. I wasn't particularly thrilled with the book when I first read it (for school; seventh grade, interestingly enough), yet I ultimately read the sequels by choice (I rather enjoyed Let the Circle Be Unbroken, if I recall correctly). And when I look back at the book, I think I did gain a lot from it, even if I didn't appreciate it at the time…
I've always wanted to read this one. Thanks for the write up. I need to go back to it
Biblibio: It's nice that you got a lot from it even though you didn't like it. I probably wouldn't have liked it when I was a kid, either, because I didn't like sad stories at the time. And it seemed like we were always forced to read sad stories…it made me a bit bitter. 😉 I'm glad I read this now when I can appreciate it better.
thecuecard: No problem! Thanks for stopping by!