Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

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Recommended by Stephen Dilley @stephenjdilley

Author: Mildred D. Taylor

Form: Prose Novel

Length: 208 pages

Brief synopsis: A coming-of-age story about a young African-American girl growing up in Mississippi during the Great Depression. Over the course of the novel, Cassie Logan and her siblings come to understand the shocking realities of racism.
Based on the experiences of the author’s parents.

Age recommendation and challenging content: Suitable for Year 8 or 9 (has previously been a GCSE set text.)
Contains racial slurs including the N-word; the author is African-American and has spoken about her decision to include this language in various interviews. Includes racial violence and lynching, though this is not graphically described.

Notable reasons for recommending this book: An important novel by an African-American author. It explores similar themes to To Kill a Mockingbird but from the perspective of a Black writer and narrator, and the Black characters have more agency in this novel rather than being dependent on a white saviour figure. Relevant historical context as links to racial segregation in the Deep South but remains topical today.

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