Today is the first day of the To Kill A Mockingbird read-along. Since this book just happens to be my all time favorite book ever written since I was seven years old. I am not making that up, I swear.
I was about three when my Sister Ann wanted to play teacher and needed a student She taught me how to read using her reader: Fun With Dick and Jane. I have read everything I can get my hands on ever since. My mom used to say I would read the cereal boxes in the grocery store just to have something to read.
When I was seven (in 1967) I found a copy of To Kill a Mockinbird on the bookshelf at our house, and the cover looked really fun. I took it to mom and asked if I could read it, and without thinking she said yes. It wasn't till later that it occurred to her that there might have been quite a lot of age inappropriate content (rape accusations, murder, racism) for my tender sensibilities. to be honest, I loved the book. The writing was so beautiful, Scout was just my age by the end of the story. She and I were both early readers, and aye that is why I identified with her. I had a friend who lived up the block from me who was my Dill He didn't have the same tragic parentage, but we were inseparable in the summers going on wild adventures in the woods just outsides our neighborhood. I could imagine myself as Scout (even though it was my sister whose name was Jeanne Louise), but that was a consequence of birth, she was born after the book was published, and I was born before.
Even though I faithfully read the book at least once a year from 1967 on, for the life of me I don't think those issues occurred to me until well into my teen years, when I suppose maturity was forcing those issues into my real life. One of my classmates was raped, and became pregnant, and we lived in a racially diverse city where tensions ran high at the end of the "Age of Aquarius". There were race riots at the High School, and my Father, who was a guidance counsellor at the middle school I attended became a buffer between the black students (the term they used proudly then) and the all white administration of the school because he allowed the students to talk openly without fear of recrimination or punishment while in his office. They came to him with their problems, and he was the bridge between them and the Principal and other teachers.
Anyway, I encourage you to get a copy, or get out your copy and read along. Especially now, with the state our country is in currently. This book has much to teach us about how calmer heads should prevail. Sometimes we need to slip into the other person's shoes and walk around a little while. Won't you join me for a stroll through the tired old town of Macomb. We can say hey to my old friends Scout, Jem, Dill, Atticus, Miss Mamie, and Miss Maudie and even Miss duBose if we dare. If we are lucky, we might even get a glimpse of Boo Radley! Happy Reading.