This week I’m attacking a much-beloved classic; a book that has been challenged many, many times in its history. It has had to go up against many a school board and pearl-clutching soccer moms who felt children should not be made to feel uncomfortable and exposure to adversity should be kept to a minimum. Gauntlets have been thrown, yet To Kill a Mockingbird has come out on top time and time again.
And for good reason. It’s a good book.
(After my Great Gatsby post a good friend of mine called me to verify that I didn’t, in fact, hate Gatsby. She was afraid our friendship had all been for naught and that this meant the end. So, I guess I’ll put up front that I love To Kill a Mockingbird. I have very fond memories of reading about it. In fact, I posted about it once during banned books week. You can find that post here.)
However, many of the reasons I want to replace Gatsby hold true for To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s antiquated, it’s from a perspective that doesn’t totally represent modern America, and while it still has a revered place in literature, it may not be the best pick for a 9th grade classroom anymore.
I will say, Mockingbird has some things going for it that Gatsby was totally lacking. For one, it was written by a woman, which is a rarity amongst books taught in public school English programs. In Louisiana–at least when it comes to the middle school curriculum–women comprise between 10-15% of the voices students are exposed to. According to The Ultimate AP English Reading List only 2 of the top 10 most frequently referenced books on AP Exams are books by women (neither of these books are To Kill a Mocking Bird, of course.)Read more