Earlier this month, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was banned from public schools in Biloxi, Miss., for making people “uncomfortable.” Yup, you read that right. Uncomfortable. Banned. Yikes.
Your faithful Re:Readers can’t lie: taking another look at Lee’s masterpiece made us a little uncomfy, too. Difference is, we don’t want to ban it; we want everyone to read it so we can start up a thoughtful, ongoing conversation about race, childhood, and belonging-and-othering in the American South and beyond. We also want to talk about why Jessica let her own personal Boo Radley into her home as a young child. So much to discuss.
Say it with us: We Read (And Re:Read) Banned Books!
To reread this particular banned book with us, grab a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird at your local bookstore or neighborhood library, or download it from your favorite digital book space.
In 2015, Harper Lee published her second novel, Go Set a Watchman, which was an early draft of Mockingbird. The publication--and content--generated much controversy. We think it’s worth a look, if only for the historical perspective it offers when trying to understand Lee and the context in which she dreamt the story for To Kill a Mockingbird. For more on Harper Lee’s life and the story behind the publication of Mockingbird and Watchman, check out the biography Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields. After all the reading, if you’re in search of some screen time, watch Gregory Peck take on the role of Atticus Finch in the beloved film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, currently streaming on Netflix.
- Dill, best childhood pal of Jem and Scout Finch, was based on Harper Lee’s real-life next door neighbor: Truman Capote. Best literary besties ever? We think so, too.
- Lee was finally able to turn to writing full time when some friends gave her enough money to serve as a salary for one year while she worked on Mockingbird.
- Lee wanted Atticus to be played by Spencer Tracey on the silver screen, but the role ultimately went to Gregory Peck. We think he did it justice, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apparently did, too: He was nominated for--and won--the Oscar for Best Actor in 1962.