Thursday, June 21, 2012

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Title:  Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry  (Mildred Taylor)
Rating:  ***  (3 out of 3 stars possible, "A")
             Highly Recommended      

Title:  The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963  (Christopher Paul Curtis)

Rating:  **  (2 out of 3 stars possible, "B")

Audience:  5th Grade and Up

I volunteered in my 5th grader's public school library this past school year and was introduced to these 2 civil rights/race relations gems.  The librarian mentioned one teacher in particular who insisted on reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry to his class every year.  I observed that the 4-5 class-time books my own daughter's reading/social studies teacher offered this past year seemed to focus mainly on adventure reading meant to hook the boys with limited attention spans.  After hearing just a chapter of each of these books read aloud I knew I needed to offer my daughter something more convicting and important than just another Rick Riordan escapist escapade.

I keep a lot of book lists around and many of these race relations/historical fiction titles were also listed in another anthology:  The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  As a Christian, not to mention a suburban white Christian, I need to better understand the persecution and lack of justice our country historically offered to minority races.  I'm responsible to instill a better understanding in my children.  Recently, my (outspoken) 7 year old met a young, black friend and announced "Twenty years ago your people were slaves to my people!"  Obviously, I have some work to do.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is the shining star of it's genre.  Told from the point of view of 9 year old African-American Cassie Logan, this Newbery Medal winner contains the right mixture of humor and drama.