To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Book Info
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
© 1960 HarperLuxe, New York, NY
ISBN 978-0061980268

Plot Summary
During the Great Depression in a small town in Alabama, Scout is six years old and lives with her older brother, Jem and her widowed father, Atticus. Every summer, a boy named Dill comes to town to live with his aunt and the three children spend their time together playing and being terrified but fascinated by the reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley. Atticus is a lawyer and agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who was falsely accused of raping a young white woman, even though it earns him the cruel nick name “nigger lover.” Scout and her friends become much invested in the trial, learning valuable lessons about innocence, understanding, justice, prejudice and bravery, sharing these valuable lessons with the reader as well.

Reader’s Annotation
The lauded classic To Kill a Mockingbird is a gripping tale of innocence, understanding, justice, prejudice and bravery, told from the point of view of a six year-old girl. Set in Alabama during the Great Depression, the lessons to be learned are timeless and powerful.

Critical Evaluation
To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic piece of American literature that gives an inspiring, realistic and shocking look at Depression Era America. Segregation was still in full effect, allowing blatant racism to run rampant across the nation, especially in the South. Taking place in Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird showcases a moving example of racial injustice through the innocent eyes of a child. The main characters of the book are just young children but the subject matter and overall social commentary involved make this book incredibly deep with an older, more adult feel. Writing the book from this point of view, Lee is able to depict complex concepts by how they would be interpreted by children and show how the children mature and grow over the three years that pass through the course of the book.

Information about the Author
Harper Lee is an American writer, famous for her race relations novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. The book became an international bestseller and was adapted into screen in 1962. Lee was 34 when the work was published, and it has remained her only novel.

Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama. Her father was a former newspaper editor and proprietor, who had served as a state senator and practiced as a lawyer in Monroeville. Lee studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949, and spent a year as an exchange student in Oxford University, Wellington Square. Six months before finishing her studies, she went to New York to pursue a literary career. During the 1950s, she worked as an airline reservation clerk with Eastern Air Lines and British Overseas Airways. In 1959 Lee accompanied Truman Capote to Holcombe, Kansas, as a research assistant for Capote’s classic ‘non-fiction’ novel In Cold Blood (1966).

Visit the author’s website.

Crime, Mystery, Drama, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction

Curriculum Ties
History, Sociology, English

Booktalking Ideas
Discuss how Tom is analogically the mockingbird.

Discuss the evolution of Scouts relationship with Boo.

Reading Level/ Interest Age

Challenge Issues

  • Racism

Defense options

  • Be aware of your library’s collection development policy.
  • Be familiar with the material in question, and the context of the questionable content.
  • Assert the principles of the ALA Library Bill of Rights, and standards of intellectual freedom.
  • Consult online book reviews, and others who have read the book.

Why Included?
This book is a timeless classic that appeals to a wide audience and is a poignant social commentary. I wanted to include at least one major classic, and this was my first choice.


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