Wednesday, September 22, 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The True Book Addict has a mini-challenge. Banned book week is approaching, and this challenge is to pick a banned book I have read (if you haven’t one you would like to read), and write about my reasons for reading it and my thoughts on it.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is on the banned list and has been for years. It cites racism and offensive language as the top two reasons for its banishment. I read this book in 2009. It had been sitting on my shelves for years, and I had seen the movies years prior. I had always heard how wonderful this book was and that it is a must read before I die, so one day I sat down and started to read it.

My son had read this book in his freshman year of high school. A mistake had been made during the summer and he was not sent his summer book reading list. The first day of school, he was told he needed to do a book report (on 2 books, the other which is also on the list “Animal Farm”) or he’d fail. He had read “Animal Farm” in the 8th grade, so it just left him having to read “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I managed to find a copy in the library (they didn’t have a copy in, but as I was about to leave, someone was just returning it…I have the luck of the Irish).

My son was up for 4 hours reading this book, he was enthralled. I had never worried about any book the school required my children to read. I find the reasons most books are banned are ludicrous. I never felt my children’s morals were at risk, and they quite enjoyed the banned books they’ve read (my daughter read some Judy Blume). Why should children be sheilded from the ugly realities of the world? Yes, "To Kill a Mockingbird", is full of racism, but the world was full of racism in the 1930s. We cannot sweep it under the rug and hope the past vanishes. As far as 'offensive language' I can honestly say, I do not recall any words that I don't hear in the street on a daily basis.

However, I still did not have the desire to read it; I’d seen the film after all. Last September during banned books read I finally picked it up. I read it because it was a TBR, that fit a challenge I was participating in.
I’ve heard about American racism first hand through my older relatives, so there was no shock factor in reading what was in this book. It is rather a sad story, and makes me happy that we, as a nation, has improved for the most part. I appreciated the precociousness of Scout and the curiosity of her and her brother & neighbor.

When asked what my favorite book is, I know tell people it is “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Most people I know have not read it, so I urge them to. It is an excellent piece of historical fiction, and banned or not, has stood the test of time.



Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

Great pick! I have not read this one either (shame, shame), but I do have it on my shelf. Maybe I'll read it next year. Based on the movie though (Gregory Peck version), it does display the thinking of that time period very accurately. I agree with you. Why should our children be shielded form the harsh realities of the world? They will be out in it soon enough. Better to know the ugliness that people are capable of.

Thanks for sharing!

Anne said...

I also read for the first time not too long ago. I remember being angry that I was never made to read it in school!