‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

Best of: books for ages 14-18 #2: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee

This classic is and has long been a favourite of both students and teachers alike because of its combination of easy-to-read witty prose and deep moral questions.

Set in the 1930s in the American deep south, the novel is a Bildungsroman, or ‘coming-of-age’ story, told through the eyes of a little girl called Scout Finch.

The child’s perspective leads the tale, which is one of rape, racism and political unrest, to have a warm and witty atmosphere. It skilfully manages to intersperse childhood games and quarrels with the serious goings-on in the town, in which Scout’s father, Atticus, plays a key role.

With its engaging characters, charming descriptions and ability to immerse you into a different time, place and way of life, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is a classic for a very good reason.

Immediately successful on its publication in 1960, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was the winner of the Pulitzer prize in the same year. Harper Lee was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the novel. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was also placed at the top – ahead of the Bible – of the 2006 librarian’s list of books every adult ought to read.

By the same author: ‘Go Set a Watchman’, the controversial 2015 novel written in 1957. Also worth reading is Lee’s open letter to Oprah Winfrey in 2006.

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