April 28:  Mockingbird Day  

Today is the birthday of Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. She was born in Monroeville, Alabama in 1926 and the events in her novel parallel her life growing up in the South during the Depression. One example is the character Dill who was drawn from Lee’s childhood friend Truman Capote. In 1959, Lee assisted Capote in his now classic non-fiction novel In Cold Blood (1966) (See April 14:  Prepositional Phrase Day). To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, and it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. In 1962, the novel was made into an Oscar-winning film, but strangely, Harper Lee never wrote another novel.  In 2015 the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird was published under the title Go Set a Watchman.  Harper Lee died in 2016.

Cover of the book showing title in white letters against a black background in a banner above a painting of a portion of a tree against a red backgroundThe success of To Kill a Mockingbird continues today. It’s taught in nearly 80 percent of America’s middle schools and high schools. According to the Center for the Learning and Teaching of Literature, To Kill a Mockingbird is on every list of the book-length works most frequently taught in high school English.

Here are the lists:

Public Schools:

Romeo and Juliet; Macbeth; Huckleberry Finn; Julius Caesar; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Scarlet Letter; Of Mice and Men; Hamlet; The Great Gatsby; Lord of the Flies.

Catholic Schools:

Huckleberry Finn; The Scarlet Letter; Macbeth; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Great Gatsby; Romeo and Juliet; Hamlet; Of Mice and Men; Julius Caesar; Lord of the Flies. (1)

Independent Schools:

Macbeth; Romeo and Juliet; Huckleberry Finn; The Scarlet Letter; Hamlet; The Great Gatsby; To Kill a Mockingbird; Julius Caesar; The Odyssey; Lord of the Flies

Particularly interesting is that To Kill a Mockingbird is not only the most contemporary work listed, it is also the only work by a woman.

Today’s Challenge:  A Truly Must-Read Book

What one book would you say should be a graduation requirement for high school?  Brainstorm some titles of books that you think should be read by high schoolers.  Then, select the single book that you would argue is the most important. Write your argument for why this book should be required reading.  Explain what the book offers students, and why is it an important book both for today and for tomorrow (Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)

Quotation of the Day: Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. -Harper Lee

1-Applebee, Arthur N. ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills. Bloomington IN. 1990-05-00. Eric Identifier: ED318035.


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