by Rebecca Weber, Instruction Librarian
To Kill a Mockingbird is the first banned book I ever knowingly read. Somehow, I didn’t discover how wonderful it was until I was in graduate school, and one of my professors gave a lecture on the freedom to read. I knew that To Kill a Mockingbird is often assigned and sometimes challenged or banned in high schools. I didn’t know why. I picked it up for the purpose of saying I had read a banned book, and I found a heart-wrenching and heart-warming novel.
I love that this story is told from the point of view of Scout because children don’t come with pre-conceived ideas about the world around them. I love that Scout’s father Atticus is a man willing to risk his reputation and his place in the community to stand by his principles. He is a lawyer seeking justice for his client Tom Robinson, a man falsely accused of rape. This book contains some racial slurs and deals with rape, racism, child abuse, and the stigmas surrounding mental illness. It also explores the themes of kindness, justice, compassion, and advocacy. Lee suggests that doing what is right doesn’t always lead to the perfect outcome, but it is still important to stand against injustice. To Kill a Mockingbird presents the best and worst of humanity, and ultimately, what’s good about the human spirit.