Monday, September 28, 2009

Author Bites - Beth Fantaskey on Killing Mockingbirds

A big thanks to Beth Fantaskey for contributing to Ban This! What those parents banning books fail to realize is that these books, the ones they think will dement their poor children's minds, are hugely inspirational, hugely helpful and it's hugely detrimental to remove them from circulation in any way. But I'll let Beth have the floor on that.

As I was trying to figure out what I could contribute to this dialogue, I started surfing the web for information about exactly which books have been challenged in recent years.

I’d heard about – and therefore expected to see – certain titles popping up again and again. (Good old Catcher in the Rye! Did anything make me want to read it more than the endless fretting about its content?)

But then I came across – and was jolted to see – To Kill a Mockingbird listed as a book that has faced numerous challenges.


That novel taught me more about compassion, and human decency, and the importance of doing the right thing, and being open-minded about people who seem “different” than…Well, few people or things had a greater influence on me as a young person trying to set my moral compass.

I spent the greater part of my young life wishing I was – and in my better moments trying to be – as brave and kind as Scout, and feeling lucky that I had a Dad who was a good deal reminiscent of Atticus Finch, minus the law degree. Tom Robinson awed me with his quiet, powerful grace in the face of racism that threatened his life. Even Mrs. Dubose, the angry neighbor, turned out to have a hidden strength. Gosh… I think I learned something from just about every character in that book, as the various players’ true selves emerged.What a masterpiece, on every level. Thirty-some years later, I still carry its lessons with me.

I might not be the best person in the world – but I guarantee you that I’m a better person for having read To Kill a Mockingbird.

And I kind of think that, right there, says all I need to say about banning books.


jessjordan said...

I was floored to see To Kill A Mockingbird on the banned list. What?!?! Wow ... just, wow ...

I went to a very small, very southern baptist, public high school, where they didn't think twice to take a moment of silence or say the Lord's prayer before a basketball game. And even there, we had To Kill A Mockingbird on our reading list.

Sigh ... What has the world come to??

Becky said...

I love the fact that bvooks like Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies and To Kill a Mockingbird are on the challenged books list - they are pretty much compulsory reading in the UK for 15-16 year olds. They're actually the exam texts. Clearly our teachers aren't worried about their content!

Jessica said...

I totally agree on To Kill A Mockingbird. It is a book that should be mandatory reading for all to mold our morally compass to guide us to be better people. Not kept from anyone.

Donna said...

It really is surprising. And all these years later, they're still trying to ban the classics. Obviously they haven't learned from history.

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