Tuesday, February 07, 2006

To Kill a Mockingbird

Have you heard the latest? An anonymous parent of a middle school student in Brentwood, TN is stuffing mailboxes in an attempt to get his petition signed. What is his petition for?

To ban a book on the basis of profanity, obscenity & racism. What book is it?

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee! I love that book and happen to know that many of my blog readers do as well. With the recent "4 tag" that went around recently, Kristen, Elizabeth, Deana & Matt all proclaimed that they could read this book over & over. Judy Thomas is the one who wrote the post that alerted me to this banning attempt. Being a former children's literature professor, she has strong opinions about this kind of thing. I encourage you to check out what she has to say about it.

I'm interested in hearing what others have to say. Do you think it should be banned because of some of the elements mentioned above? It is a good book, but is it appropriate to be read by students in school?

10 comments:

janjanmom said...

I think it should be required reading for the whole world!! Growing up in prejudiced small town America, this was the first inkling I had that racism is not only wrong, but a form of pure evil.

The dumbing down of America is alive and well and trying to ban one of the best books ever written!!

Deana Nall said...

This book was required reading in 9th grade at my Christian high school.

There is a lot of ugliness in TKAM. But it is an ugliness that we should never forget. I have a feeling this anonymous parent is one of those who believes this country was founded on Christian principles by a group of devout, God-fearing men. It's easy to forget that some of the first white folks here ran the Indians off their land and then kidnapped Africans from their home to bring them here as slaves. It must be nice to forget all that and make our children think nothing unpleasant ever happened in our wonderful, perfect country. I believe this is known as revisionist history.

Sorry, this is the kind of thing that really ticks me off.

Jacinda said...

Come to think of it, I'm sure my Christian high school is where I read it first, too.

I knew you would be upset Deana. I'm hoping you'll write a post about it!

Lolita....... said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SG said...

We live in a strange world! TKAM is tame and very balanced compared to so much that is out there for our kids. There will always be parents who do this sort of thing. I wonder if they have considered how much uglier the world would be if we weren't taught lessons like the ones in TKAM.

Matt Elliott said...

I'm not particularly concerned about whether schools have them read TKAM or not. In fact, the typical recipe for helping a school-age child HATE a book is to REQUIRE that they read that book! :-)

However, it WILL be required reading in the Elliott house. No one will receive a drivers' license without having done so.

And Harper Lee's amazing work will thrive and impact lives long after the aforementioned anonymous parent is dead and gone.

MDM said...

Now THAT is someone with too much time on her hands....

Alissa said...

I just recently re-read TKAM and I must admit that some of it shocked me, even though I have read it before, at least 2 times and seen a play or two of it. I think that some of it was just so sad and sharp...living here in the deep south and realizing how it wasn't all that long ago that the book took place (and how accurate some of the thinking was in the book) and also how so many people here (in the south) haven't changed their thinking. It is just so heartbreaking. I think it will be something that I would rather have read at home. I want to make sure that certain things are discussed, and that certain things are thought about in a deeper way. I don't know that I trust the school system to handle it...I know that several books that were once on the "banned book list" were required reading in high school and middle school for me, and I recall that several of them were sort of glossed over and rushed through to avoid thinking and talking about things of such a strong nature. (Not always did that happen, but several teachers just weren't the type to lead such discussions and were probably rasict themselves!)

erin said...

My only concern about the previous comment, being an English teacher, and having taught the novel for the past 4 years, is that not every student is blessed to have parents who will encourage reading in the home. Should those students not be exposed to the book? I agree that it is not appropriate for middle school, but if a book is presented in school, then good parents will be discussing it at home anyway. I don't believe that we should deny anyone the valuable lessons that books provide. The education system is responsible for making well-read individuals. Not all students are going to "get it." But they should all be given the opportunity. I'm sure this is an idealistic view, which is one of my faults. Sorry if this steps on any toes.

Malia said...

I know I was required to read it in school I just can't remember if it was middle or high school. But I'm fairly certain that the first time I read it was at the suggestion of my mother! I've read it a few times and have, of course, seen the movie lots of times. It is one of my all time favorites...book and movie! Hmm...maybe I'll just go and get myself a copy and read again!

All I have to say about the controversy that is brewing in Brentwood right now (and I just live a few miles away) is the saying that my daughter's school director says every year to the parents, "Do not prepare the path for your child, prepare your child for the path." This anonymous (coward!) parent is trying to prepare the path for his/her child by making sure they don't read something that might be offensive or even worse might make the child think for him/herself about issues such as race and class (Brentwood is an affluent & mainly white city).