Safe Discussions Rather Than First Hand Encounters: Adolescents Examine Racism Through One Historical Fiction Text

  • Wanda Brooks
  • Gregory Hampton


This article presents a case study class’ response to Mildred Taylor’s now classic and widely read novel, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. Through data collected during one school year, the ways urban, adolescent students use their contemporary lenses to interpret the literary theme of “confronting, overcoming and challenging racism” are discussed. The participants’ responses are organized into four reader response categories that explicate the complex and interactive interpretations developed by the children while reading the novel. In addition to providing insights about the participants’ textual understanding, pedagogical findings indicate that the book can also be used to explore the nature of racism while creating a safe space to confront and more deeply understand racism’s impact on the past as well as the students’ current reality.


adolescents racism historical fiction ethnically diverse children’s literature 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wanda Brooks
    • 1
  • Gregory Hampton
    • 2
  1. 1.Assistant Professor of Elementary EducationUniversity of MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Assistant Professor of African-American Literature in the Department of EnglishHoward UniversityUSA

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