Thursday, June 21, 2012
Title: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred Taylor)
Rating: *** (3 out of 3 stars possible, "A")
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.