A favorite and most dreaded time in my classroom is about to begin: the reading of "To Kill a Mockingbird." I love this book. It's an important book. It received a Pulitzer Prize and is on the Must-Read lists of books for a bzillion organizations. It contains characters and quotes that have entered our culture and our lexicon. Once again, I love this book.
What I dread are the students who love to whine during the month we read this book. They don't give it a chance because it looks long. They don't give it a chance because they don't like reading. They make their opinions known very loudly and make it yucky for the students who like it, the students who aren't sure if they like it but they are giving it their best shot and for me.
I have devised a WHINING FORM (below) for the students who persist in vocalizing their hatred.
I have also a new attitude and way to communicate why we are reading this book due to another book, "Readicide" by Kelly Gallagher. I'm not asking my students to like the book. I hope they do and I think they will if they give it a chance but that's an aside, not the main point. What's the main point? That they read a classic, an important book, one that every Freshman or Sophomore in the United States and England and who knows how many other countries read every year, a book that challenged ideas of racism and prejudice in the 60s during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, a book we can relate to through it's stories of a small town and of a brother and a sister playing in the front yard in the summertime. I'm not dreading it anymore... To Kill a Mockingbird, here we come!
Kim Blevins is a teacher-consultant with the Greater Kansas City Writing Project.
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