Looking through the list of Frequently Challenged books I feel like I've read a lot of them.
One of my favorite challenged books has been on my mind lately. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year.
I love this book for many reasons. Scout and Jem are raised by their father with the help of Calpernia, the maid. My mother and her brother were raised by their mother after their father died. Seeing Scout grow up with the perspective of only one parent (a parent who was respected in the community) gives me some idea of what growing up with one parent must have been like for my mother.
I was in ninth grade honors English when I first read this book. It was the first book we read that year. I would have gladly repeated ninth grade English just to read this book again.
I've been thinking about this book lately because I was working backstage on The Scottboro Boys during its run at the Guthrie. The play is about the nine African-American teenage boys who were riding a boxcar and were pulled off the train and accused of rape. Despite a lack of evidence including one of the accusers changing her testimony in a later trial the verdict kept coming back guilty.
I heard an interview with John Kander saying how this trial was always in the news when he was growing up.
It made me think about Harper Lee and how this trial would have been a part of her childhood especially growing up in Alabama with a father who was a lawyer.
Reading the book I can see the influence of this trial in her story as well. In To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch is defending Tom Robinson, an African American who is falsely accused of rape by Mayella Ewell. Atticus takes his duty of defending Tom seriously. He points to the lack of evidence, that Mayella was never taken to a doctor. He even shows that Tom Robinson could not have bruised Mayella's face where she was bruised. The kids, Jem, Scout and Dill are sure that Atticus has won but then the verdict comes back guilty.
So to celebrate Banned Books week I'm reading my favorite, To Kill a Mockingbird again.
What about you? What are your favorite challenged books? How are you celebrating banned books week?