To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee
My recommended reading age: 14 and up
Lexile 870L
Historical Fiction

Set in the deep south in the early 1930's, this book demonstrates the racial injustice that was present at this point in history  The story is told from the perspective of Scout, a 6 year old girl as the story begins.  Her father Atticus has been assigned to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman.  Despite overwhelming evidence that the defendant is innocent, he is convicted.  While not a surprise to the adults, Scout can't understand how this injustice could happen

I'm pretty sure that at some point this is required reading for most high school kids.  I think every person should read it at least once during their lifetime to get a perspective of what life was like even years after slavery was abolished.  Personally, I read it in high school, but had forgotten the story so I read it again.  It was definitely more meaningful the second time around probably because I had much more life experience (or perhaps I was just more shallow in high school). 

This book contains references to rape, drinking, beating, derogatory language, discrimination, lynching, and attempted seduction.  It should definitely not be read by kids before 8th grade.  I think it's wise for parents to know this book so they can discuss it with their teenagers, or at least be able to help them with the homework they are assigned on it!


I too, read this for my required 12th grade reading, and having spent my entire life in the West didn't get it.  It wasn't until many years later, when I read it again, that I realized the social injustices that were placed on African Americans for so many years following the abolishment of slavery. 

But what makes this book so readable, is that it is written from a child's perspective.  Anyone with kids recognizes pure innocence and goodness by the way their kids judge others.  I absolutely love Atticus's character and especially how Scout sees him.  

I agree with Becky's thoughts regarding the content of the book.  Don't let your teens only discussions about this book happen with their teacher.  It is an easy book to discuss because it has taken mature themes and written them from the perspective of a six-year old.  

Happy Reading

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