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Required Reading: Which book from your school days 
do you remember reading & enjoying? Is there a book published now 
that you’d like to see in today’s curriculum for kids?
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is the Great American Novel.  I was “forced” to read it in 10th grade.  I cannot tell you how much I loved this book.  Being from the south is a privilege, but we do have a sordid history of racism and classism that is embarrassing and, in some cases, unforgivable.  I don’t think I would have picked up this book if it were not required reading.  The story of Jem and Scout and Dill was captivating and interesting, but the story about Tom Robinson and The Ewells is what really drew me in. 
We moved at the end of 10th grade, but again in 11th, I was required to read the book again.  And I could have gotten by with my memory from the previous year, but I reread the book because I loved it.  To this day, it’s my favorite book, followed closely by Pride and Prejudice.  Surprisingly, I haven’t reread either of those books since I was a teenager.  I may need to rectify that soon.  I remember telling someone that when I had kids, I would read this book to them.  I think they’re a little young now (the oldest is not yet five, and he’s kinda into Thomas the Train books), but I will one day keep that promise. 
What would I like to see teenagers today be “forced” to read?  The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Another story in the same vein, namely, regarding the southern way of life in the middle part of the last century.  It was a time of great upheaval and uncertainty, a time when many young people realized that they didn’t have to abide by the way of thinking that preceeded them.  And I think this book really conveys that uncertainty and forward-thinking. 
I know this is probably not groundbreaking, but these two books mean a lot to me and force me to confront the kind of thinking that seems to be ingrained in many people that I know.  And, really, isn’t that the whole point?
What would you “force” kids these days to read?

8 thoughts on “TGIF

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird is so fantastic. Did you ever see that show Heroes and Villains by the American Film Institute? They made a list of the top 100 heroes and villains in film (alternating one bad and one good). I think the top bad guy was Vito Corleone but the number 1 hero was Atticus Finch. I know it’s just the movie version, but I so heartily agree that he is the best character ever. He’s my favorite (even more that Michael Moscovitz. Can you believe it?) And…I’ve never read The Help. There. I said it. I just promised my girlfriend from my book club that I would though.

    1. when i was pregnant with Jaxon, a woman that works at a store that I frequented was also pregnant with a boy & told me they were naming him Atticus! Oh, i was SOOOO jealous! it doesn’t surprise me that Atticus was number 1, he is the Great American Hero (ha ha, i just pictured Gregory Peck in a superhero costume)

  2. I feel like a horrendously bad southerner for not ever reading To Kill a Mockingbird, especially considering all the close to home connections I have with Harper Lee. I probably should make this my number one priority…
    While we do have a kind of embarrassing past (and by “kind of” I mean extremely) I find that I tend to avoid books that deal with racial issues of the South. To me – and I really hope I don’t offend anyone by this statement – Southern racial issues is a novelty subject. What I mean by this isn’t that it’s not serious but that it’s such a part of our culture down here that there’s really nothing new or eye-opening about it, therefore it’s mostly lost on me. A friend of my mom, who is from the North, read The Help and was completely shocked at what happened in it. She asked my mom if it was really true, to which my mom (who grew up in Selma, AL during the Civil Rights period) answered “Well, yeah… we all had maids like they did in that book.”
    I feel that I liken reading about the South’s racial history to a German reading about WW2 – not a very proud time for either of us, but a part of our history and who we are.
    And I DEFINITELY didn’t mean to comment this much! 🙂

    1. i know exactly what you mean by this. it’s absolutely true. it’s something that’s ingrained in us, so it’s not groundbreaking or new info. it’s just something that happened to us and part of who we are. i’m so glad that we’ve made strides in the past 50 years or so to correct the things that we took for granted to be normal.

  3. My mom made me read To Kill A Mockingbird when I was too young for it and I wasn’t able to enjoy it. I haven’t read The Help yet, but I’ve heard good things about it.

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