Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sounder” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  23,844 Ratings  ·  830 Reviews
A landmark in children's literature, winner of the 1970 Newbery Medal and the basis of an acclaimed film, Sounder traces the keen sorrow and the abiding faith of a poor African-American boy in the 19th-century South.
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published October 28th 1969 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1969)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sounder, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Chocolat by Joanne HarrisLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelCharlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald DahlGreen Eggs and Ham by Dr. SeussFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Food-Related Fiction
301st out of 428 books — 520 voters
City of Bones by Cassandra ClareClockwork Angel by Cassandra ClareDivergent by Veronica RothCatching Fire by Suzanne CollinsShiver by Maggie Stiefvater
YA Books - Can't Forget them
30th out of 88 books — 11 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
This was required reading for me in 6th grade. I remember it opening my eyes to racism and I was appalled that anyone would be treated differently because of the color of their skin. Just after I'd finished the book, I walked into the bathroom in the Miami airport and saw two black women standing against the wall. To prove I wasn't racist, I stood between them until one leaned over and mentioned that it was a line. Sometimes it's better to be blind.
Christie Williams
Jan 24, 2012 Christie Williams rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Certainly, I value the storyline of poor black sharecroppers--it is an important narrative to tell. I did not, however, enjoy the the ways in which Armstrong told this narrative.

Except for the ending, I was bored by his stilted prose. That is my primary issue with the story. In addition, I was annoyed by the nameless characters in this story. I do not buy the suggestion that their namelessness suggests that they represent many poor and rural African Americans during this time. For me, their name
Ryan Miller
I know that Armstrong wrote this as a parallel to the story of Ulysses' dog, and that he intentionally left details ambiguous so that all readers could identify with the characters and setting, but I spent the entire book bothered by the way a white author portrayed an African-American family--none of whom were named. Identity is important, and when a book is written so intimately but without names, it devalues (for me) the importance of the characters themselves. I know Armstrong said he wrote ...more
Apr 14, 2009 Rosa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this on a plane and I read it fast so that I wouldn't cry. Oh, it's so good. I don't know why I never read it in elementary school. I secretly have a tendency to avoid books that involve animals because I ALWAYS bawl. This was no exception. I LOVED the analogies between Sounder and the boy's father.
I highly recommend this book.
Apr 24, 2009 Josiah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very pleasantly surprised by this book (not that the story itself strikes a pleasant tone). In many years I would have quickly agreed that this is the best choice for the Newbery Medal, but for 1970, I would actually give the award to John D. Fitzgerald's "More Adventures of the Great Brain".
William H. Armstrong writes with quiet sincerity, and a truthfulness in detail that cannot be exceeded. What I liked best of all about this book is that young readers are so often told that no matte
Sep 15, 2013 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, newbery
Winner of the 1970 Newbery. Set probably some time in the ‘30s, this book centers on an unnamed black boy who must grow up fast after his poor, sharecropper father is arrested for stealing a ham for his hungry family. The titular dog, a hound/bulldog mix who loves to hunt with the father, is hit with a shotgun during the arrest, and never hunts again. It’s a bleak tale; the boy’s silent rage, in which he visualizes brutal violence befalling the unjust, cruel white men who oppress him and his fat ...more
Apr 27, 2016 E.F.B. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I read this book way back in...I can't even remember which grade. Maybe 1st or 2nd grade? My school had a summer program and they'd give us a quiet hour every day to pick a book and read, and for some reason I chose "Sounder" that year. It really surprised my mom and teachers that I chose it, because it was way beyond my reading level at the time, both in length and reading difficulty, but I did, and I read it all the way through. I think I was just at that age where I thought A) if it has a dog ...more
Jun 05, 2007 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone.
I think this was one of the last books I read aloud to my family. I remember all of us lying on the bed while I read a chapter or two a night. I remember trying to read as I cried.
Mar 16, 2011 Julianna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Modern Classics, Coming-of-Age Stories
Reviewed for THC Reviews
Sounder isn't so much a story about a dog as it is the coming of age story of an African American boy in the depression era South. There is a beauty in the simplicity of the author's writing which imparts a great deal of meaning in a minimum of words. William H. Armstrong was definitely an author who understood the meaning of the saying, “Less is more” and put it to good use. I never thought a book in which the characters have no names could be so powerful, yet even thoug
Jun 12, 2013 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was on a Newbery kick and brought Sounder home from the library. My husband saw it and remarked that it would be a great read-aloud and asked if I'd read it before. I said that I couldn't remember if I'd read it (I'm like that sometimes).

Well, as it turns out, Sounder is not the type of book you'd forget that you'd read!

Sounder and his master, the boy's father, suffer similarly disfiguring fates at the hands of the law, and both return home to endure, then die.

I did love how the mom reacted
I remember reading this when I was maybe 8 or 9, and of being completely inconsolable afterwards. I have an overactive empathy gene, I think, so certain books affect me far more that I would like to be affected. Thankfully, this time around, I was able to read through this without going through a box of Kleenex during and a period of depression afterwards.

Sounder is a story that deals with loyalty and loss, as well as courage and perseverance in the face of racism and hatred and meanness. So ma
Sep 29, 2016 Raevyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in July or early August. I remember it being realistically depressing. That's about it.
Duffy Pratt
I've read several of these Newberry honored books now, and they make me wonder about the committee. The picture I get of the voters are of a bunch of middle aged white folk who think of books as a kind of castor oil. Not good tasting, but it's medicine and it's good for you whether you like it or not.

This one checks off all the boxes. The writing is graceful and beautiful, but stilted. There are a couple of events, but no story here. Story is something kids might like, so we can't have any of th
Hali French
Sep 02, 2013 Hali French rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: animals
I enjoyed reading this book however it is definitely not one of my favorites. The tone of this book was very emotional throughout the whole thing. It was obviously took place awhile back when there was racism and hard times. The little boy told his story throughout the whole book. The boys’ family and education were both very important to him. He helped support his family with his father and dog (Sounder). Until something went wrong and his father and dog were no longer around for a while. Sound ...more
Apr 03, 2016 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another re-read of a childhood favorite. I was immediately struck by the excellent writing. And then I was amazed at how differently it reads now. As a child it was a story about a boy and a dog. As an adult it's about the treatment of poor black sharecroppers in the South. Regardless - it was a great read then and it's a great read now.
Rachel M.
Nov 01, 2011 Rachel M. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
*Note: This book really has a 1.5 star rating!!!

I've got to be honest...I know this book is a classic, but it did absolutely nothing for me. I have read so many other books that do a much better job of evoking sympathy over the racism that African-Americans faced in the Post-Bellum South. Although this novel presents literacy in a positive light and claims that an education is the key to securing a better future, this novel just does not have enough stuff going for it. The diction is neither bea
Dec 07, 2009 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbury-award
5th grade - 8th grade

This book is short yet advanced. Sounder is 80 pages in length with 33 lines of 12 point text. There are no pictures. The story has many complex sentences. Armstrong's Sounder is a Newbery Award winner and an excellent book. Despite that though, I might think twice about bringing this book into the classroom. The story is very, very sad and sort of a hard knock life tale. If I decided to choose this book to lead a unit, I would focus on the emotional aspects of the boy, his
My heart always hurts when I read about days long ago and how the world treated people of a different skin color. I'm not sure it isn't so much different today in some parts of our world. It saddens me.....
7th grade. Wish I'd read this with a little more appreciation but at that age I know I hadn't been exposed to much. I do remember liking this. No rating--read too long ago.
Mar 04, 2008 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, newbery-medal
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lorissa Slagle
Mar 31, 2014 Lorissa Slagle is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
The story Sounder, written by William H. Armstrong is about an African American southern family and their dog Sounder. The genre of the story is realistic fiction. The opening scene takes place on the front porch of the family's house with the father petting his dog and talking with his son. Although this family is mentioned throughout the story, the only name that is given is the dog Sounder.

The family's world is suddenly shaken when their father is arrested for the accusation of stealing ham.
Benji Martin
Oct 22, 2015 Benji Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really dark story, but the late 19th century was a really dark time for African American sharecroppers. Despite the darkness, though,There was a LOT of hope in the book. The boy hoped that they would somehow manage to get food to eat. After his dad was arrested, the boy hoped that he would be able to come home soon. He hoped against all of his mom’s advice that Sounder wasn’t dead. He hoped that he could get his hands on a book so he could teach himself to read. He may have been reall ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An, African American boy had a best friend which was a dog name Sounder. This African American boy had step parents. His only family member was his dog Sounder. His family had barely food to eat. One day they went hunting for food in the woods. They mostly come home empty handed, one day Sounder got murderd. The boy wants to find out who assassinated his best friend. Read the book......

The book made me emotional, I can't imagine my life without a my best friend. Someone, that has been their fo
Steve Hemmeke
A quick and useful read on negro life as a sharecropper. The people have no names, to make the point that their dignity is diminished in society. But the identity of the dog is linked with the boy and the father.

[spoiler alert]

The dog is carelessly shot and grievously wounded, and the father is arrested equally carelessly. The dog doesn't die until he sees the man return home. The father doesn't die until he sees his family again.

I read this to see if it a suitable for my children, ages 9-12, an
Jul 14, 2014 Kalen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I struggled to enjoy this book and its writing style. This really wasn't a boy and dog story, which I had expected, because Sounder never really loved the boy the way he loved the father (no character has a proper name). The time line of the book also made it hard for me to like the story. I found that the first half of the book took about 14 days to go through then the last half of the book seems to spans 2-3 year if not more.

This is a good story if you are looking for a book that depicts ever
Carol Storm
Feb 20, 2014 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Books that made me cry, here I come!
Cassie Parker
Aug 25, 2014 Cassie Parker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written story that tugs at the heartstrings. I recommend it highly for those with a soft spot for dogs. It's what got me to read the book in the first place. It's very sad though, so there's my warning. :)


A black sharecropper family is poor and hungry. The boy's father and dog go hunting each night, but the hunting is poor so they live off of corn and potatoes. One morning, that changes when they wake up to a ham boiling. The family feasts o
Feb 14, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sounder is a powerful story about a young african american boy and his sharecropper family. The boy (we are never given his name), their dog Sounder, and his father often hunt for possum and raccoon during the winter months to help feed the family and bring in extra money. Unfortunately the weather is not favorable for hunting and the boy's father steals a ham to feed the family. Shortly afterwards, the white deputy shows up to take the boy's father to the town prison to await trial. As they are ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 18, 2012 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newberry-books
Why is it that any book with a dog in it always is sad? Look at the evidence, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Art of Racing in the Rain and Marley and Me are just a few I can think of? Animals and dogs in particular tend to pull at the heart strings of the average human, I think. The author, William Armstrong used the term human animal, which I found particularly pertinent. You don't necessarily have such an attachment to a cow or goat, but the way a dog looks or acts just oozes feelin ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sounder 2 6 Oct 28, 2015 05:23PM  
SE Reading Buffs 6th: Sounder 3 4 Oct 28, 2015 12:08PM  
What's The Name o...: historical fiction book about a black family, father arrested and tied to wagon [s] 5 20 Nov 27, 2014 08:02AM  
Sad, Happy, Or Both? 7 15 Mar 26, 2014 09:04PM  
  • Shadow Of A Bull
  • Shen of the Sea: Chinese Stories for Children
  • Miss Hickory
  • Onion John
  • Waterless Mountain
  • M.C. Higgins, the Great
  • The Dark Frigate
  • Dobry
  • Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon
  • A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers
  • Daniel Boone
  • The White Stag
  • Tales From Silver Lands
  • Secret of the Andes
  • The Cat Who Went to Heaven
  • The Slave Dancer
  • Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women
  • Rabbit Hill
For more information, please see

William H. Armstrong (September 14, 1911 near Lexington, Virginia - April 11, 1999 in Kent, Connecticut) was an American children's author and educator, best known for his 1969 Newbery Medal-winning novel, Sounder.
More about William H. Armstrong...

Share This Book

“One day might be different from another, but there ain't much difference when they're put together.

September 14, 1911: Writer and teacher William Armstrong wrote celebrated children's books including the Newbery Medal-winning Sounder, about an African American sharecropper family with a loud and loyal hound, inspired by Odysseus' dog Argus. Armstrong was born in Virginia 102 years ago today.”
“I have often heard it said that cowardice is the mother of cruelty, and I have found by experience that malicious and inhuman animosity and fierceness are usually accompanied by weakness. Wolves and filthy bears, and all the baser beasts, fall upon the dying.” 0 likes
More quotes…