Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Literary Cafe: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

After seeing this Nerdy Book Club post I knew I wanted to have a book cafe of my own. I asked my 6th grade ELA teachers if they would be interested and they said yes. Their first class novel is Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor. Some of the issues in the book include the Great Depression, school segregation, separate but equal, boycotts, and sharecropping. So I took those issues and tried to think of activities that would help prepare the students to read and understand the novel. The four stations that we agreed on were:
1) Read short articles about boycotts (both in the past and more recent) and create a Tagxedo using important words from the articles. I found articles on Tween Tribune and in our state databases. You can see in the picture below that this student read about Claudette Colvin and created a bus shaped Tagxedo using words from the article.

2) Preview books about segregation and the Civil Rights Movement, find pictures about events and people from the time period and create a photo collage using Students found the site easy to use and were able to explore many images from this time period.

3) Complete a sharecropping math worksheet and writing activity. I found this activity online and used it as a model. Few students were able to earn money at the end of the activity, which illustrated the vicious cycle of sharecropping. The reflection questions on the back helped students put themselves in the sharecroppers' shoes.

4) Watch a Discovery Education United Streaming video featuring interviews of those that grew up in a segregated South and those from sharecropping families. While watching the movie they enjoyed mini cornbread muffins (a food mentioned in the book).

The students were able to create several nice products, both collages and word clouds. Their reflections were thoughtful and reactions to the video were empathetic. I believe this was an excellent way to prepare them for reading the book. I look forward to hearing from the teachers about how the students are able to connect these activities to the novel when they begin reading this week. 

Have you ever had a book/literary cafe? I would love to hear your ideas.


  1. I'm out seeking and searching for some of the best library blogs for an article I'm having published and I'm so glad I found yours to include! You have impressive content and a great overall feel and vibe! I look forward to mentioning your blog in my article.


    1. Wow! thank you. I would love to see your article when its available. I'm always eager to learn about new librarian blogs.

  2. What a great idea! Did students complete all of the activities in one day or over several days?
    Kim Mistler

  3. Tamara,
    Thanks for sharing! I was inspired by the same Nerdy Book Club post (!) and worked with my 1st grade teachers to develop a literacy cafe as a culminating activity for their Kevin Henkes author study. I set up 4 stations in the library for students to visit in small groups, making sure that each activity was connected to the Common Core standards. (I wanted to show that as a librarian, I can be a resource for teachers on implementing those new standards!) You can get the details from my blog post, including detailed descriptions of activities and examples of student work. My goal is to do at least one literacy cafe for each grade level at my elementary school this year.