Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Publisher: Warner Books
Copyright Date: 1982
Young Scout Finch and her brother Jem are growing up in Maycomb, Alabama. Their father, Atticus, is a single father with a successful law practice. Scout and Jem spend their summers playing make believe with each other and occasionally their friend, Dill. The three children become fascinated with the mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley, who has not emerged from his house in years. The children soon come to believe that he is leaving them gifts in the knot of a tree, which further pricks their curiosity.
Meanwhile, Atticus agrees to defend a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman. Determined to give the man fair representation, Atticus waylays a racist mob intent on lynching the accused before his trial. Because of Atticus’ involvement with the trial, the Finch family soon find themselves persecuted by the White community.
Determined to do the right thing, Atticus presses onward, despite the consequences to himself and his family.
This story is especially unique because it is shown through the eyes of a child. Scout must develop her own opinions about what is right and wrong, and find faith in humanity. Through the actions of her father, it is revealed that we should never judge an individual based on stereotypes or prejudice. The story also reveals that doing what is right is not always easy. Scout and her brother suffer because of their father’s decision to defend a Black man in court. Scout could have grown to resent her father for this decision, but instead she learns a valuable lesson about forming your own opinions about people.
This book often appears in high school curriculums, and rightly so. It is a very powerful book that covers a very formative time in the history of America. Books like this reveal the folly of racism and the lasting damage it can have on a community.
Reader’s Annotation: Young Scout must learn the hard lesson that doing what is right isn’t always easy. One must never base their opinions off of appearance.
About the Author:
“Writer Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama. In 1959, she finished the manuscript for her Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller To Kill a Mockingbird. Soon after, she helped fellow-writer and friend Truman Capote write an article for The New Yorker which would later evolve into his nonfiction masterpiece, In Cold Blood. In July 2015, Lee published her second novel Go Set a Watchman, which was written before To Kill a Mockingbird and portrays the later lives of the characters from her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.”
Genre: Young adult, realistic fiction, historical fiction, classic
Curriculum Ties: English/Language Arts, Social Studies, History
- Describe Scout’s discovery of gifts in a tree.
- Describe Scout’s feelings watching her father from the “colored” balcony of the courtroom.
Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 8-12, Ages 13-18
Challenge Issues: rape, racism, violence, objectionable language
Chapter 5 of Youth, Pornography, and the Internet (2002)
Justification of Selection: This book is a literary classic and it is a staple in high school curriculums.
The Biography.com. (2015). Harper Lee. Bio. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/harper-lee-9377021