Why is To Kill a Mockingbird Worth Reading?It's a classic, but why? Why is it still such a popular book, and why do you think it's worth reading?

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jamiekee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To Kill a Mockingbird teaches that racism is wrong, yet it also shows through the actions of the characters that racism still continues regardless of what society says. The good intensions of one man makes no difference in a town full of racism. However, the innocence and open mind of a child can make a difference. During the years I taught this novel, I had more conflict from parents who were angry that I taught it because it had the "n" word in it. Sadly, when I asked these parents if they read the book, most said no. Their children, however, understood the message behind the "n" word. I do agree that the author's view concerning race was, in fact, limited due to her upbring and society at the time. However, in writing her book, she showed clear indications that she wanted to break free from the limited and cruel treatment of blacks, but in her dialogue between characters, Harper Lee appeared to struggle with just how to let go of the racism all around her. I think her novel was beautifully written, expressed a clear message that racism was wrong (but still remains present in the hearts of some people), and that treatment of anyone "different" was wrong (as evident in the town's treatment of Boo. Sometimes it takes another generation (Scout) to break away from the cruel and limited thinking of the previous generation.

Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When the novel was first issued, the reviews were not universally positive.  Some reviewers found the voice of the Scout too be too mature, even for her remembrances.  However, time has proven these early naysayers wrong.  "Mockingbird" is unique in its advocation of a female protagonist without much regard for her gender (Scout simply is; there is no long defense of her actions or inactions being motivatd by her "femaleness."  For this reason alone, Mockingbird should be on every teen's (and adults) reading list.

As has already been expressed above, the novel also offers a glimpse into our troubled racial past and presents it in a realistic way.  Atticus offers a moral compass to his children and to his society in a way that is folksy but not comic, intelligent but not overbearing.  What is best about American society and what is worst is presented side-by-side, and in prose style that seems effortless but is actually tightly constructed. 

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Why is To Kill a Mockingbird Worth Reading?

It's a classic, but why? Why is it still such a popular book, and why do you think it's worth reading?

Jamie noted that critics found Scout's too mature, but that time has proven these critics wrong. I think that's part of the appeal. Scout articulates that inner insight that many of us heard inside our heads, but that I, at least, fumbled mightily when I tried to speak out loud. Actually, Scout does too at times—think of how she gets in fights—but she manages to pull it together when it matters. Her voice is that of the out of place child, the universal genius trying to figure out what she's been born into.


As far as other reasons for popularity, try tension, great character portraits, inventive language use, and Lee's willingness to weave her way down her personal back alleys in the plot.


Good stuff!


sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I could name all the standard reasons for reading Mockingbird, which involve the nobility of Atticus, the humorous tone, the tragic and ugly efffects of racism on a community. But more recently, I think an important reason to read this book is to notice how limited the author's view is concerning race. The narrator is repeatedly condescending in speaking about black people, making comments such as "Tom seemed a respectable Negro, and a respectable Negro would never go up into somebody's yard of his own volition" (Chapter 19). There is no irony here: she means what she says. In reading it now, it is important to be aware of the historic and political limitations of a novel written about race in 1960.--Sagetrieb

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Harper Lee has such a powerful way with words that these characters come alive on the page.  Each person has a distinct voice and each has something important to add to the timeless themes of the novel.  The message that everyone deserves dignity and respect is always a lesson that should be revisited.  The imagery is vivid.  The tone is impeccable.  I still get chills when I read Attitus' closing arguments, and I still hear the sympathetic understanding of Scout as she recounts the story from Boo's perspective while she stands on his porch and "stands in his shoes."  There is not a word wasted in this masterpiece.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the books I reread for my own pleasure repeatedly over the years. The moral lessons are there, but it is the characters that keep me coming back. The personality Lee infuses in them is so riveting. I usually hate movies made from books because the actors they choose never match what they are in my own imagination. But Gregory Peck is Atticus. The only time I can say an actor was made for a role. All the qualities that were given to him in the novel are on the screen, as well.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think this is an unforgettable book in so many ways. The development of the children from their childhood "innocence" to their adult maturity is striking, as is the character of Atticus Finch. Part of the success of this story has to do with the narration, that successfully allows us to see the action of the story through the eyes of the central protagonist - Scout.

starscandal | Student

The novel opens our minds to sensitive topics such as discrimination. While many agree that discrimination is down-right WRONG, there are however, still a handful of black sheeps who do not believe that all men are equal.

Also, the childish innocence of the children (especially Scout), reminds us of how we were when we were still children at her age, trusting of all, but are at the delicate stage of which our minds can get polluted or influenced negatively by widespread gossips. (and i agree that the novel is humourous!)

catclaw | Student

firstly, it teaches us moral values such as NO discriminations.
lives are lived the way people want it to be.
the novel tells us that people have the freedom to choose the life they want others to have or for them to have. this also mean that discrimination CAN be done away with!

secondly, the novel does have its hilarious moments despite the solemn scenes.
it takes off the tension in the novel for a bit and later plunges deep back into the nerve-wracking scenes again.
it is the fabulous writing style of Harper Lee that makes the book captivating and thus makes it worth our time to read it!

lastly,the controversial questions brought up in the novel such as the debatable subject of the proper behaviour of women (whether it is a stereotype or not), are mind-stimulating. furthermore, the court trial scenes are filled with suspense and tension to the extent of you not wanting to put down the book till you are through reading it. it certainly would not bore the life out of you unlike a certain few other novels which too depicts trial scenes.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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