Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Category: Newbery

Personal Evaluation: As a kid, I was instantly drawn into Cassie’s world, which was one I had almost no knowledge of – Depression-era South, sharecroppers, pre-civil-rights tensions. Once it occurred to me that this was the time period my own grandparents had grown up in, it really impacted how I saw the world. I read all three books in the series (the other two are Let the Circle Be Unbroken and The Road to Memphis) and loved growing up with Cassie. I got indignant along with her and came to understand what she was going through as a child of black Southern sharecroppers in the 1930s, to the extent that I could.

What might interest children: I think this is historical fiction at its best – readers getting so inside the head and world of the main character and really understanding the challenges and joys of their life and times. A librarian friend once said that kids who are big readers are the most empathetic because they’ve been in so many people’s shoes through reading their stories. This would be perfect for any kid in need of a little (or a little more) empathy.

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