Friday, April 28, 2006

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 the 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). 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 book.

The 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.

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: To Quiz a Mockingbird

See if you can identify the speaker of the following quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird.

1. Scout, I think I'm beginning to understand something. I think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time…it's because he wants to stay inside.

2. There's a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it's dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. Let the dead bury the dead.

3. I just thought you’d like to know I can read. You got anything needs readin’ I can do it …

4. First of all . . . if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view

5. Yes, suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more ‘n the rest of ‘em—

6. I’m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and in the jury system –that is no ideal to me, it is a living, working reality.

7. People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.

8. That’s okay, ma’am, you’ll get to know all the country folks after a while. The Cunninghams never took anything they can’t pay back—no church baskets and no scrip stamps. They never took anything off of anybody, they get along on what they have. They don’t have much, but they get along on it.

Quote of the Day: Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will set down quietly, may alight upon you.... --Nathaniel Hawthorne

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

1. Jem 2. Sheriff Tate 3. Dill 4. Atticus 5. Tom Robinson 6. Atticus 7. Miss Maudie 8. Scout

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