Banned Books Week Spotlight – To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee

Original publication date: 1960

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

Lawyer Atticus Finch defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic, Puliter Prize-winning novel–a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Through the eyes of Atticus’s children, Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unanswering honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930’s.

Status: Challenged and occasionally temporarily banned at libraries and high schools around the country (citation).

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Wow, people really went to town on this one: vulgar language (because of the words ‘whore lady’), representing institutional racism (I don’t get it, did they deny this exists/existed?  Do they think TKAMB promotes institutional racism??), use of the word n*gg*r, racial themes, conflicting with the values of the community (get me out of that community!), profanity, racial slurs, being degrading to African Americans (citation).

My thoughts: It drives me crazy that a depiction of racism is challenged for racial themes.  READ THE BOOK, PEOPLE!  Clearly Atticus is dissatisfied with the status of race relations in his community, he is working to make a change.  It wouldn’t be dramatic that he is fighting racism if Lee didn’t include a realistic description of racism.  Like “The Grapes of Wrath,” this is one of my favorite books of all time (.doc), and one I re-read frequently.

Your Turn: Have you read “To Kill a Mockingbird”?  What do you think?  Does it accurately depict race relations in the South at the time of writing, or is it a racist novel?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South AfricaThe Grapes of WrathThe Handmaid’s TaleNative SonIn Cold Blood

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a WallflowerAnd Tango Makes ThreeCatch-22 The GiverThe Things They CarriedThe Bluest Eye


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18 comments to Banned Books Week Spotlight – To Kill a Mockingbird

  • To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all time favorite books. It’s one that gets better with re-reading.

  • i haven’t read “to kill a mockingbird” as yet.. but definitely want to.. thanks for the review.. i am going to pick it up soon:) and from what you’re saying i am surprised this book is banned!

  • To call TKaMB racist is absurd. You know what they say about people who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.
    And I agree, it is an excellent book. And not a bad movie.

  • I absolutely LOVE this book! I fell in love with it when I had to read it in high school and still love it. The movie is even good too!

  • I just read this book in September and LOVED it! I don’t think it’s racist at all. Where is there a single description in the book that could be called racist? If anything, it shows blacks in a good light and the white people who thought low of them as being in the wrong. I think I’ll be watching the movie soon.

  • lindymc

    This is an all-time favorite book. It’s hard for me to understand how anyone could object to its content. To me Atticus Finch epitomizes all that is good and admirable in an adult male – whether as a father, attorney, neighbor, friend, employer, citizen.

  • Shana

    I’ve read it, love it and agree w/ your thoughts re: it’s banned book status.

    I’m really amazed and disturbed by the banned books list.

  • I think this is a fantastic book. I never though of it as being racist, that’s ridiculous.

  • Why did you censor yourself?

  • I don’t want people to find my blog who are searching the internet for that term. I wouldn’t ban a book because of it (obviously), and I think it can be worth reading books that use that word in historical and social context, but I don’t feel the need to use it personally.

  • This is one of my favorites as well. I haven’t watched the movie yet but would like to some day.

  • I’ve actually read it twice. I think, no I know, it accurately predicts race realtion in the south when this was written. I’ve lived in the south my entire life and between my grandmother and great-grandmother I’ve heard enough stories to last me a lifetime.

  • Ok, one of the best books ever written, IMHO of course! LOL Most schools (here in the U.S.) have it as required reading now. I am glad. I don’t think many kids today would pick it up on their own- perhaps considering it would be “to old” plus there aren’t any vampires in it. 😀 But the lesson is so valuable and the characters are so wonderful, I don’t want anyone to miss out on this book.

  • I need to read this book again – I’ve read it twice. It’s required reading in every school I know about, actually, and for good reason.

  • you know i read this book for the first time after you gave me your must read document (which, my GOD, i do not want to see how long it is now) b/c it was in the “read or never talk to me again” section. i can’t believe i didn’t read this book in high school, but i’m glad i finally got to it, i loved it! also, i met a 3 year old named Atticus the other week…thankfully, his sister was NOT named scout.

  • Dakota

    Umm… i had to read to kill a mockingbird in my freshmen english class and it is banned from many schools in the u.s. i dont seem to understand why, i mean some of the language is surprisingly strong and used often, but come on this was written so long ago that those words were commonly used. my class has had alot of discussion on this book, because of its powerful message about racism and such, it starts kind of confusing for a 15 year old, like come on do i have to read this, but as the book continues you realize how its connected and why it starts the way it does.

  • Classic read, makes me want to find an old copy to give it the once over again. Keep up the good work.

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