To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My Opinion of the Book
The first book I finished this year was a classic: To Kill A Mockingbird. Now, I am going to admit something I don’t want to admit. When this book was assigned in high school, I didn’t read the whole thing. Actually, I didn’t read the majority of it. I watched the movie instead. *Cringes at 16-year-old self*
So, I “reread” the book six years later and felt full regret for not reading it the first time. I loved this book!
I loved this book because of how it reveals the darkest parts of society through the point of view of an innocent, naïve child. I think Lee is brilliant for using this perspective to unveil how nasty and compassionate mankind can be all at the same time. Scout’s journey through Atticus’ trial goes to show that the people around us heavily influence how we see and treat others, but, at the same time, we are completely capable as individuals, sometimes as young as six years old, to decide for ourselves how we will see and treat others.
I feel like if I had read the (whole) book in high school, I would not have appreciated it as much as I do now. Now that I am older and have seen more of the world, this book has so much more meaning to me. In general, I think high school students really couldn’t grasp how important this book really is.
Why This Book is Still Relevant Today
Over the years this book has been banned, unbanned and banned again from school curricula. The StarTribune recently wrote an article on Duluth schools no longer assigning To Kill a Mockingbird (as well as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) as mandatory reading but will still have the books available to students to read as they wish.
The StarTribune article explains that the argument that ultimately swayed this decision to be made was that adolescents are already exposed to racial slurs and indecencies in the real world. So, why would we expose them to it in their education? To continue, a school environment should be a safe place for all students, and requiring students to read this book in a classroom setting could make students of color feel uncomfortable or unequal.
I do not stand strongly on one side of this very heated, continued debate, and I am not a person of color and cannot agree or disagree if this argument is true. If it is true, then I agree with the decision to ban the book.
However, I fear that if I had not been assigned this book in high school, I may have not picked it up again years later. I don’t think I can articulate just how very important I think this book is because it explores an issue that started hundreds of years ago that still rings true today. The issue may even be getting worse!
I would hate to see less people, especially young adults, reading this book over the years because it was banned from school cirriculum.
So, to that point, I ask: why not use this book in the education system for leverage and as a tool to teach students at a young age to open their eyes and their hearts, to influence them to see and treat each other as equals, and to allow them to choose as individuals how they will fall into this nasty and compassionate mess we call mankind?