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"Banning Books Silences Stories": Revisiting To Kill a Mockingbird

Scene from the film To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Click to Enlarge "Banning Books Silences Stories": Revisiting To Kill a Mockingbird

Who do we silence when we ban a book?

This year, Banned Books Week (September 22–28) aims to bring attention to this question with the theme: "Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark. Keep the Light On," emphasizing that banning books silences challenging, yet necessary, discussions. A recent Top Ten Most Challenged Books list, released yearly by the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, includes perhaps one of the most iconic books in American literature, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960). The use of this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee has been challenged in the classroom and library for violence and racial slurs. However, its exploration of the mentality behind racism and its consequences in Jim Crow Alabama make this an invaluable work to explore American history. The plot's similarities with events unfolding in 1930s America, especially such notable cases as The Scottsboro Boys Trial, offer a road map to Southern race relations of the era and to the impact of Jim Crow on the U.S. legal system.

Literature Connections provide readers with the historical background for such definitive novels as To Kill a Mockingbird, helping students make connections between history and the novel through essential questions and multiple perspectives. Use our To Kill a Mockingbird Literature Connections to engage students with the social and economic climate of the 1930s and support their reading of this American classic.

The Instruction and Background Resources can be found in the drop-down menus on the left. The Instruction will support student analysis of the reference articles. The Key Question, How does To Kill a Mockingbird inform race relations during the 1930s? includes a Background Essay and Perspectives that analyze the diverse issues presented by the book and how they reflect American society in the South during the Great Depression.

Entry ID: 2172356

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