What role does reading play in Maycomb?
This is a very interesting question. There are many instances of reading in the novel. Most of the times those who are most enlightened are the ones reading. They are the ones who stand for what is right.
For example, the children read. And the children are the ones who ironically see with the greatest moral clarity. Dill introduces himself as one who can read. Jem retorts that Scout is much younger and she can read as well. Here is the dialogue:
“I’m Charles Baker Harris,” he said. “I can read.”
“So what?” I said.
“I just thought you’d like to know I can read. You got anything needs readin‘ I can do it...”
“How old are you,” asked Jem, “four-and-a-half?” “Goin‘ on seven.”
“Shoot no wonder, then,” said Jem, jerking his thumb at me. “Scout yonder’s been readin‘ ever since she was born, and she ain’t even started to school yet. You look right puny for goin’ on seven.”
Atticus is probably the most voracious reader. According to Scout, he not only read to her and Jem, but every night he reads the newspaper, which sets him apart from the others in Maycomb.
In light of these points, there is a case to be made that many in Maycomb are ignorant and blind. Their racism was partially due to their lack of education as seen in their lack of reading, which could broaden their minds. Of course, this point is debatable, but there is a case to be made.