If I had to choose a favorite book – which honestly is the hardest thing I could think of – “To Kill A Mockingbird” would be at the top of that list.

Racial slurs, profanity, and blunt dialogue about rape have led people to challenge its appropriateness in libraries and classrooms so often that, today, the American Library Association reports that To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most challenged classics of all time and still ranks at number 21 of the 100 most frequently challenged books of 2000–2009. Even as recently as 2011 and amid 326 other book challenges for that year, it ranks in the top ten more than 50 years after seeing print. (http://bannedbooks.world.edu/2012/07/30/banned-books-awareness-to-kill-a-mockingbird/)

I have read this book so many times in the my childhood and into my adulthood. I’ve had to buy multiple copies because of how many times I’ve read it. The copy I currently own has swollen pages due to a mishap with a leaky sunroof in my car. But I love it. That book had such a profound impact on my soul. And the movie only served to reinforce that impact. So much so that now when I read it I hear the voices of Mary Bedham, Gregory Peck, Phillip Alford, John Megna and Estelle Evans in my head. I even named one of my cats Scout.

My baby girl Scout

My baby girl Scout

God forbid when I have children if they end up a school that doesn’t assign this as part of their English/literature class! Because they will be reading it. Sadly its tragic story still resonates today, and Atticus Finch’s words and philosophy is one we all need in our lives. It’s a book that we should all be reading – expose yourself to that world of hate and watch Atticus Finch stand up to it – in a nonviolent way. Watch Scout learn how to love her fellow-man by the way her father treats his fellow-man. It’s mind-boggling to me that people don’t get that out of the story.

It’s mind-boggling to me that people would ban this book. Because it has racial slurs or profanity? People still speak like that today and they’re exposed to it – give them a safe environment to experience it. Blunt dialogue about rape – yes it’s disturbing, it’s painful to read. But if you ignore it – you push it aside – you pretend it isn’t real. When your child questions you about these topics in the book talk to them about it. Have a discussion. Learn with them.

To quote that oh-so-cheesey PSA that we all know and love “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER”! And this book gave me so much knowledge and power I can’t imagine what my life would be like without having read it.

In honor of Banned Book Week I encourage you to go through the list of banned books – read ones that you haven’t read before. Re-read the ones on that you love. Keep that knowledge alive. Keep reading alive.

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