Coretta Scott King Award Books: Using Great Literature with Children and Young Adults

By Claire Gatrell Stephens | Go to book overview

Chapter 13
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Mildred D. Taylor

1977 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award


About the Story

The second story about the Logan family written by Mildred D. Taylor, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, takes place in rural Mississippi during the Depression years. Cassie, the daughter of the family, tells the story. Her family owns farmland in the area, having purchased it after the Civil War. This land, the source of the family's strength and livelihood, is coveted by many of the whites in the community. This is the story of the Logans' struggle to keep their land, their family, and their dignity intact in a hostile world.

Major events in the story include Cassie's becoming angry when her school is given used textbooks discarded by the white school, and when she is forced to kowtow to a white girl. Later, angry at a local white grocer who extorts money from his sharecropping customers, the Logans decide to organize a boycott of bis store. Men who are upset by the boycott attack Mr. Logan; they break his leg, leaving him temporarily unable to work. In the book's last sequence, a friend of the Logan children, T. J., gets in trouble after breaking into a store with some white boys. In a climactic final scene, Mr. Logan sets fire to the family cotton crop to distract the lynch mob gathering at T. J.'s home.

Taylor's story is compelling. Her characters are clearly drawn and memorable. There is much to gain from this dramatic story. Students reading Taylor's novel will learn about the Depression, racism, Reconstruction, sharecropping, and more. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is sure to spark classroom discussion and debate. It will lead students from all backgrounds and races to a better understanding of this era in American history.

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