Saturday, September 24, 2011

Celebrate the Freedom to Read: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

During Banned Books Week, Memphis Reads will dedicate one post each day to stories from library staff highlighting a banned or challenged book. The feature will be called “Celebrate the Freedom to Read.”

Kay Due celebrates

The Civil Rights Movement was “coming of age” at the same time I was in the 1960s. Because of the horrors unveiled on the nightly news (children being burned in churches; women and children being hosed down in the streets and demonstrators being dragged off of buses and beaten senseless, or worse), I was just coming to the realization that there was true evil in this world.

I first read “Mockingbird” during those teenage years. It was an eye-opening experience. I was lucky – I had adults around me who were not afraid to let me read books challenging the status quo. What I discovered was: a warm, funny story about growing up in a small Southern town, but also a story of racism and intolerance based on the need to feel “better than” someone else. In that very ugly part of the story, I found a hero: Atticus Finch is a character that every child (and adult) could learn from and aspire to become. Why would anyone ban a story about tolerance and bravery and ethical behavior?

Kay Mills Due, Central Library


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