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July 12th, 2010 by Dr. Phil

The Mockingbird Turns 50

blogmock2This past Sunday, July 11, marked the 50th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite books: To Kill a Mockingbird. I think I was 10 or 11 when I first read Harper Lee’s novel, the only book she ever wrote, (as far as we know) and to this day, I can remember the sensations I had while reading it: the overwhelming feelings of heartbreak, of shame and outrage, and, in the end, of love and acceptance. The characters were so real and so vivid to me as a naïve kid growing up in Oklahoma and Texas that I felt as though they had become close personal friends. Some now deride the book as simple and one dimensional — one critic called the heroic Atticus Finch “a repository of cracker-barrel epigrams” — but the book, and the nobility of Atticus, meant a lot to me. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I started it all over again. It was some years later when I saw the movie, which came out in 1962 starring Gregory Peck. Needless to say, it’s one of my favorite movies, too.

When I tell people about my love of To Kill a Mockingbird, some of them seem surprised. They assume I’d be drawn to something that’s more modern, I suppose. A couple of people have gone so far as to mention that America is a very different place than it was when Lee wrote the novel about Scout Finch and her father, Atticus — a small-town Southern lawyer who defends a black man unjustly accused of rape in 1930’s Alabama. They say that a black man is now president of the United States. There are no more fights over civil rights like there were in the Jim Crow era.

Well, it is a different time, and in many ways we have made great progress, but in some ways we have so very far to go. Racism still exists in this country, and it probably always will. Fear, ignorance and injustice — the main themes I saw in this book — are as prevalent today as they were decades ago.

That is why this book is so important to me. I think it is a rare masterpiece that taps into who we are and the way we live. Even the minor characters – Jem, Calpernia, Tom Robinson, and of course the mysterious Boo Radley from next door — teach us unforgettable lessons about what it means to be a true and unique human being.

This summer, I recommend that you put a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird in the hands of your children, and I encourage you to read the book yourself if you haven’t done so. More than 30 million copies, 40 different languages and 50 years later, this story is as inspiring as ever. It lets us ask the questions we always need to ask: Do we constantly injure those who are harmless? Victimize those who have done nothing? Prey on the innocent? How far have we come, and how much further do we need to go?

My friend, Oprah Winfrey, has called To Kill a Mockingbird “our national novel.” I couldn’t agree more. As the great Atticus says, “Remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” — an innocent creature that never harms another creature but only sings out of happiness.

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32 Responses to “The Mockingbird Turns 50”

  1. Janet says:

    Oh my gosh this is my favorite story! Well said Dr Phil! You covered my thoughts. The character that moved me the most was Boo Radley. My brother (Tom) whom I care for, is our neighborhood Boo Radley. I know alot of people look at my brother and perhaps are afraid. He’s harmless. In this age of child abduction and the horrible things people do I can’t say I blame them. I tell my neighbors who my brother is and assure them he would not harm a fly. Personally I related very strongly to Scout. I was a total tomboy and had a big brother like Jem to look after me. I wished I had a dad like Atticus. Kind, understanding and wise. I grew up during the civil rights movement. The only black people I saw as a child growing up in Clifton, New Jersey were the garbage men. They turned garbage collecting into a ballet! I always gave them my best sunny smile. It was my way to let them know I liked them. Later I asked my mother to purchase a black Tiny Tears dolls for me to play with. I was young but I knew I had to make a statement somehow. We still got a ways to go.

  2. Dr. Phil, You stirred some deeply emotional memories for me with this post today. “To Kill a Mockingbird” was the first book my mother ever gave me, as a gift, to have as my very own grown up book to read. I loved the book and subsequently the movie became one of my all time favorites. I identified with Scout, as I too was a tomboy and I grew up in rural Alabama during the turbulent 60’s and 70’s (with 7 brother’s!) and I lived through the years of segregation and later, in the early 70’s integration. I lived through a terrible riot that took place in West Point, Georgia in early 1971 where my mother and my younger brothers and I were sitting in a diner on a normal Saturday “in town” and suddenly we were surrounded by angry black mobs who were throwing trash cans at cars and store windows. My mother bravely instructed me and my brothers to stand with her and walk out. We held hands and followed my mother’s lead, not looking back even though we were being threatened and told we better run. My mother was so brave, but she was also scared. Still she explained to me that the blacks in town were angry because someone’s son had been killed the night before by a white policeman. She said she understood their anger, and was just thankful they had not tried to harm us. The following Monday, my mother suffered a brain aneurysm and after 3 months and 4 surgeries she died. I was 14 when all this happened. It would have been so easy for me to allow the prejudice that was prevalent during my childhood to guide my feelings and color my life as that was the very year that our schools became fully integrated. But my mother’s sense of fairness, objectivity and love for all people and the lessons I learned from her and from this book, that meant so much to us both, helped me become a person who looks beyond the surface. This is a book that is deeply tied to who I am, and it ties me to great memories of the person I have loved the most in my life. Easily it’s the most influential book of my life. As for the part I love best, I love it at the end, when Boo Radley brings Jem home and sits out on the porch with Scout. That scene speaks volumes. Thank you for letting me share my history connected with this book.

  3. Dr. Phil, I attended Catholic School in the 1960’s. There were no black children in our school, nor in my neighborhood for that matter. Then one day in 4th Grade when it was clear that Sister Joanne could not teach 43 children in one classroom, in walked the first Black American female teacher and person I ever met in my life. It had a profound effect on me and all the other students. She was not only articulate, but she was beautiful. Vivian Walker came into our classroom and changed us. She was an amazing teacher with a love for us that had no end. At the time “To Kill a Mockingbird” was a bit over our heads, or at least mine. However, she, in all of her wisdom and patience discussed discrimination and what it meant to really feel and believe in hatred, fear, oppression, and being an outcast. She allowed us a forum to discuss what it meant to be “Negro” as she referred to herself at the time. She carried us through the final 4 years of Elementary School with grace and dignity and joy. She instilled in us the overwhelming fact that all of us, black, white or otherwise, were the same. We had the same dreams, desires, hopes, fears, and ideas that would carry us long past our classroom. To Kill a Mockingbird so reminds me of her. I pictured Mrs. Walker as “Atticus” defending the unjustly accused. In Catholic School with the Dominican Nuns of the time, it was easy for many of us to view her as a “Lay” Teacher Attorney, defending us against what was usually a lost argument when it came to our word against Sister I. Knowudidit.
    I am astonished to hear on the news, that “Harper Lee” only wrote this one book. How sad for us, as I am sure there are so many more stories locked in her head waiting to burst out. I do share your opinion that our children and grandchildren need to read this book. It is powerful, moving, and as you say often, has the potential for a “defining moment” in the lives of those who read it. Thank you Dr. Phil for encouraging us to re-read this book and more importantly, to re-define our secret prejudices, in order to become the fully human person we are meant to be.

  4. JP says:

    I first read the book at age 16 while still in school and back then I didn’t really like the book, but now in my first year as a university student I now am inlove with this absolutly stunning book…My favourite person in the book is Atticus. He is always the one to give a word of wisdom in a time it seems impossible. As a South African, I can also agree with what you said dr. Phil, as you know we still struggle with the very problems that come fourth in the novel…I hope this book remains in people’s hands as long as possible.

  5. Christina says:

    I agree with you 100% about this book. This is a true classic and it deserves the attention it is now getting again. The movie was nothing short of magnificent. As a child, I had a short stint in the south because my father was in the Air Force and we were stationed there at the time. I was beyond unhappy about this situtation. My father was in the Air Force and pressed education, reading and making sure we got and understood as much culture in our young lives as we could get. At the time, being an Air Force brat I was very upset at always having to be uprooted, new schools, leaving old, good friends for new ones, and just starting over yet again. I also had to attend Catholic schools that were very strict and it was a bit hard emotionally. The one thing I will always keep instilled though is something I never appreciated at the time. The culture I experienced from my father and our travels throughout Europe as well as the U.S. and my Italian mother. My mother spoke Italian to me and I spoke fluent Italian till I was 5 years old. When we reached the states, for some reason the “idiot” teachers advised my mother to speak to me only in English and rid the Italian because we were in America. Talk about ignorance! I’m still angry about that and my mother stated she was quite angry at herself for not keeping up the language with me because I could have been bilingual. My parents spoke Italian, Spanish and French fluently. My father was exceptionally smart. He taught electical engineering, he was a straight A student from Boston MA. He played various instruments, he wrote music, he painted and drew and was an excellent artist. He met my mother when he was a young man stationed in Italy and fell in love with her at first sight. As they told me many times upon their meeting, he chased her for over a year before her father thought of even letting her go out with this American. My Italian Grandfather was in World War One and he was on the front line. He was a proud Italian and he didn’t take unnecessary things that he felt he or his darling daughter should ever take. My father was not good enough for her according to what my mother told me during the years. Eventually I guess he wore my grandparents and her brother who was protective of her down and after about 2 years they were married in Italy. I was born in Spain some years later on an Air Force base there. The main thing about what I’m getting at is, all parents, people who may be taking care of children, whatever the case may be. When you set a foundation of bringing culture in their lives such as reading the classics, learning languages, living in various countries and in other parts of the states, you see and learn to much and your mind expands to much more than what the book stated. The ignorance of those people blaming that black man for something he didn’t do. My parents also instilled in me, because the south at that time was extremely prejudiced, that I should never think that way. I didn’t and don’t. The book a classic forever and It’s great to bring up and speak of and to hand down to other generations who should definitely read it. Your show is fabulous and I never miss it. But more about different topics besides relationships. Seems lately they’re showing way too many repeats about relationships. There’s so much more to talk about. Love it anyway and always tivo or dvr it. Thanks always .. a huge fan.

  6. Monica says:

    I first read “To Kill a Mockingbird” when I was in grade 10. I remember being completely shocked because I had never seen or read anything like this. I knew a little bit about racism but not a lot. I had never thought that someone who was so obviously innocent could be convicted of something he couldn’t have done just because of his race. I’m a fast reader so I actually read the book twice in the time alocated to us by the teacher and didn’t want to give it back. It was actually the first book that I bought myself when I moved out of my parents house. The scene that I found the most moving was when Atticus went to the jailhouse to do his best to prevent a linching and Jem and Scout defused the crowd with their innocense, I think it is so amazing that these children are so influential to the story and that their actions are so important to the story, even with everything else that is going on that is so important, I believe that Scout and Boo are the real heart of the story. This is a story that I will be giving to my nephews and nieces and reading with my own children because it is more important than ever to talk to our children about racial predfudice and discriminating against those who are different and who we don’t understand. In this day and age where we fear everyone around us it is important to remember that there is good out there too and it might be where you least expect it.
    Thank-you for the perspective that you bring to our world.

  7. peppylady says:

    Great book this winter our local library had a book disscussion and “To kill a Mocking Bird” was the book.
    Total love it.

  8. Janae says:

    This book is so important because even today, situations continually arise where it’s too convenient to blame someone who’s easy prey instead of properly blaming a criminal who might be … just like us. Maybe our ”friend”. Maybe a ”trusted” family member. Maybe our significant other. We need to be more ”real” and get ”conscious” in living so that criminals stop getting away with all their crimes. Heck, we have a perfect example in America right now — there’s not much outrage against what BP has done to our ecosystem because the BP bigwhigs are white men. What if they were non-white and maybe women? Would we feel freer in expressing our collective heartache and outrage if we hadn’t been conditioned by American society to suck it up because white men are the powerful ones who are not to be questioned nor argued with? :p

  9. Louanne Smith says:

    I readily identify with the character of Scout. My father, like Atticus Finch, did his utmost to fulill his professional duty to bring equity and fairness to the South. Though not an attorney defending the wrongly accused, my father sucessfully oversaw the peaceful integration of two SC public schools in a time when small southern towns were still resistent (at times violently) to integration. I have faint recollections of threats being directed towards my father and our family such as Scout experienced in the novel during a time when our young eyes and ears did not fully understand the implications and ramifications of what was taking place.

  10. FosterBoys says:

    “Isms” will always exist as long as there are “ists” who believe in the inferiority of others. So, in that vein, I agree with you that racism will probably always exist in this country. So will sexism, ageism, etc.

    However, do you believe that INSTITUTIONALIZED racism will always exist? These are the laws, policies, practices, etc., that legitimize the concept that some people are better than others. Jim Crow is gone. “Separate but Equal” is gone. Affirmative action is waning.

    Yet, we still disproportionately incarcerate people of color. Why is that? Are they less law-abiding than whites? We limit their access to the opportunities that will grant them true equality, punish them for living within the confines of the box that we’ve set up for them, and then blame them for not improving their situation.

  11. kouttta says:

    i watched this movie last year in my english classes in USA and i really loved it it’s so emotional and sad , i like this story, i hope i will read the book.

  12. Kate says:

    Dr Phil,
    I am going to take your advice and pick up a copy of this book and re-read it all over again. I read this in high school back in the 60’s and don’t remember a lot about it. I do however feel that as you stated, there are important lessons for us in this book.

    We are for the most part a society divided. We do not trust others nor do we see the intricate inner-weaving of all of our experiences and how they relate to one another on a global level. We have lost sight of our oneness and connection to each other and the rest of the living beings on the planet including the planet itself.

    As you so beautifully stated:
    As the great Atticus says, “Remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” — an innocent creature that never harms another creature but only sings out of happiness.

    I wonder is humanity will ever learn this simple lesson. Daily millions of innocent, sweet creatures suffer at the hands of ignorant humans who have no respect for the life of God’s creatures.

    Yes, America is a very different place. America has lost its way and is on a path that appears to some to be very dark. Yet, there is also another path forming where those who have awakened are showing the way of the light and love to others. We are on our way back to becoming true divine and unique human beings like God had intended before we fell asleep.

  13. Blgspc says:

    I have ALWAYS had a LOVE for words and Good Storytellers. From an early age I was fascinated with words, stories and good storytellers. Our family lost it’s family storyteller in December, only days from her 89th birthday. I will forever miss her.

    Is there anything that can so completely capture and retain our attention as a colorful story painted with just the right prose on the canvas of the human imagination AND as seen from the prospective of a small child? I really don’t think that there is….In fact, if the story told is about injustice no one moves until the last page has been turned and soaked up! I don’t mind pointing out that SO MANY of those AMAZING storytellers/writers are Southern Women! Harper Lee, Maya Angelou, Sue Monk Kidd and Eudora Welty, just to name some of the best.

    Born in the mid 50’s and smack dab in the middle of the South, I can relate to Harper Lee’s story.
    I can not speak for others raised in the South but I CAN certainly say that I struggled to deal with my own biases. I entered my adult life not really aware of my own narrow-mindedness. Without really understanding, as a very young adult, I gradually became cognizant of my own prejudices, thanks to the ‘help’ of some really incredible people. Actually, I landed among some folks who would ultimately become a second family to me. In retrospect, I don’t fully understand how they tolerated me! I suppose that they saw me as young and ignorant and I was. They took me under their wing and shared THEIR LIFE EXPERIENCES with me, as people of color. As we grew closer and closer, some of the things that they shared with me touched me so deeply I could see myself in a light that I found ugly and unacceptable. Some of the things that they told me kept me awake at night. However, everything about them forever changed the way I saw people. I didn’t simply come to love them, I came to admire and cherish them. It was knowing those people that helped me grow up! My time with those people- people of extraordinary integrity- that taught me something of exceptional value, that every time you make a conscious choice to avoid someone based on ANY superficial ‘detail’-including but not limited to skin color- you risk missing an opportunity to know someone genuinely wonderful and remarkable!

    We still have discrimination afoot. Giving this book to our children and young people is important in keeping the knowledge of this form of injustice alive. For the rest of us re-visiting the Finches will allow us to more fully appreciate a time and era when there were people, places and circumstances that forged beliefs that benefited no one. As Atticus Finch said, “You never really understand a person…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” He’s right and I believe that it is imperative to WANT TO take that walk!

    BG

  14. Kristin says:

    DrPhil~ You say you read these and I hope thats true. I am 27, I have a son he is 2 and I am trying to see if maybe you can help us. Here is my story.

    My name is Kristin and we need help for my child. I was in a very absive marriage and had the couage to walk away.I got away from the beating, the punches, the wipping, and the bruises. The worst was he choked me to the point I blacked out. When I came to I was beatin and bruised. I needed to leaveand I got to 2 best things in my life out of that house. So proud! I took the 16 hour drive to Yorkville, IL on December 31st. My children are my world heart and , my rock, my soul. I moved in with my sister Angel, her husband Bill, Bry (13), Kylie (5), Zack (4) and Cole 18 months.. Then there is mine Aiden who is 2 and Danika is 1.My sister moved into a nice house BUT my son Aiden has very bad ashtma and cant breath in the basement were we stay. Treatments havent been working.I want to know if you could find it in your heart to help me.I am a single mother who cant find any help me. If I had family to ask I would have asked.I was raped(54 stitches up inside), my parents turned there backs on me,beatings, the bruises, and the pain.My kids are the best thing that ever happened to me I think I would have given up if it werent for them. I am not asking for a manison (thats not me), I need to clean it ..lol I am asking for alittle help, a hero, somebody just to take some weight off my shoulders. I am a mother before student, I am a mother before I am Kristin. I wont stop writing, I wont stop blogging to find someone to help me. I need help and I hate admitting that heck any mother doesnt want to admitshe cant take care of one of her children. I care for him in every other wayYou would be saving my sons life and you would help me breath easy knowing my baby boy can breath and we will be safe. Please thank you for listening to my story. Your friend and fan Kristin

  15. FosterBoys says:

    In celebration of the Mockingbird turning 50, I’d like to use this potentially last day of my life as a day of reflection. A close friend of mine is completely wrapped around your finger despite the fact that she believes that she’s too pretty for the workplace. While I wouldn’t rate this as a suicide crisis, playtime is definitely over. She needs to spend more of her time doing something about child pornography. But then again, she isn’t much more than a loose, confused girl and a frequent binge drinker.

    Please write something new.

  16. Malin says:

    Hi Dr. Phil. I wanna start off saying that I’m probably your biggest fan. (No really!)
    I’m a 21 year old girl from/and living in-Sweden. In february 2010, my dad got very sick very suddenly, and was rushed to the hospital. Two days after we found out he had cancer in the liver, and that it had spread to the pancreas. We found our self in chock, and we didn’t know what to do. 11 days after he first got sick, he died. My dad was my best friend, my alliance. My everything. And now he’s gone. I don’t know what to do now, I don’t even know who I am anymore.
    My mom and dad met when they were 15, and had been together ever since. (Mom is now 54, dad’s birthday was shortly after his death). They were still very much in love, through all those years, they never stopped loving each other.
    They were/are soulmates. My mom is as devistated as I am. I have two brothers, and two sisters. They are taking it far better than me and my mom are.
    My mom is my best friend too, so seeing her in this much pain is so hard for me. I can’t do anything for her,or say anything to her, that can make it easier.

    How do we go on? People close to us keep telling us that it gets better with time, but we just feel worse. I miss him so much that I sometimes think that I’m going to die of grief. He was always there for me, no matter what. And now I’ll never see him again. He loved me for the person that I am, and not the person I should be. Will it be like this forever? I can’t go on living with all this pain and suffering. I just can’t. I know I have other things to live for, my mom and my loving husband. But I can’t handle this anymore. It feels like I’m dying too.
    How do I pick the ruins of my life back together? Will I ever be happy again? Will my mom? I feel so alone, people don’t wanna talk about dad, but I do. I need too. But whenever I do people just stear down at the floor and change the subject.
    I don’t think I’ll ever feel better. I know that sounds pathetic. I just miss him so much…

    I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, theres a very good chance you never will. I’ve writen a couple of times before. I just wanna say good luck to you and your family, and never take each other for granted…

    Best wishes / Malin from Sweden

  17. Blgspc says:

    To Malin,

    I am SO NOT Dr. Phil but I had to respond to what you posted.
    First of all, I am SO VERY SORRY to hear of your loss, your family’s loss. It is evident that your father was loved by many. So many things struck me as I read your post. The sudden nature of the loss. The fact that you are only 21! I was thinking that your father maybe my age or younger- your mother is only a tiny bit younger than I am. Personally, I believe that you have to grieve and that is quite painful. Finding someone to talk to during this time who is capable of listening may also help aid you in this VERY difficult time, since many of your family seem unwilling or unable to talk about your shared loss. Also, during this time, I don’t know if you are a person of faith or not but for many this is the time when relying on that faith has helped others facing something this devastating.
    You don’t have to be alone during this time unless you choose to be, so find someone who can hear your pain and be with you in a supportive capacity! Find out what groups are available for those who are struggling with a loss, in your area.

    Malin, I will pray for you and your family- that’s part of the way I both cope and aid- asking for Devine Intervention to help you reach some measure of resolve and peace. My very best to you and your family in this very difficult time. Keep talking, having your tears and whatever you need to do until you feel that you are ready to move forward.

    BG

  18. Linda RH says:

    A good suggestion Dr Phil, I was heading out to the library anyway. I’ve been thinking alot on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr lately and was going to look for a book of his speeches etc.

  19. Carol o'Brien says:

    From across the seas – in Africa – I occasionally have your programme on in the background while working at my desk. Today, 22 July, the need to send you a line on Alexandra et al led to this email so accessed your website/blog for the first time.

    Firstly on ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ – also my all-time favourite – wonderful lessons to live by. Most people who cross my life have received a copy at some time or other. In fact my eldest son who turns 40 soon and has a great sense of humour regularly reminds me not to give him another copy as I’ve done so at least six times [not true]!

    Secondly…on Alexandra et al…’eish’ as we say in South Africa when something is almost beyond belief. Good for you with your stern approach today. What about ’shipping’ them off to Africa or an impoverished community in the States where they can work with the disadvantaged? That’s often a ‘wake up’ call for what I call the ‘instant gratification generation’ or anyone who thinks/feels that they’re hard done by.

    Go well/Hambe Khale
    Carol

  20. HHILL says:

    Dr. Phil, I grew up in the town where “To Kill A Mockingbird” was born and, of course, it is my favorite book! As a child I loved when my mother would drive me around town and show me where the characters in Harper Lee’s novel lived. My mother used to walk to work and had to pass the home where the real “Boo Radley” lived. She said it was scary to walk past that home at night as she returned home because of all the mystery about who lived there. As the town of Monroeville grew, the old homes were replaced with businesses, etc. I will forever have the memories of the stories my mother told me that accompanied this wonderful novel. Anytime someone asks me where I am from, my first question is “have you ever read “To Kill A Mockingbird”?” and I can immediately see the look on their face change….remembering back to the time in their life when they experienced life in a small southern town introduced to the world through the words of Harper Lee. One of my most prized possessions is my autographed copy of the book that was signed at the town’s library many years ago. My parents gave me the book and I can remember how tears welled in my eyes upon opening it for my birthday. Like many others, I felt all the emotions when reading the book….but it also gives me a warm-fuzzy feeling of my hometown. Thank you for taking time to honor this book!

  21. alexia53 says:

    The 21st Century has already witnesses dramatic changes for humanity. Looking forward, humankind is on the threshold of bold new advances

  22. Mary Fowler says:

    So glad to hear that you love the book. I call it my favorite as scores of others do. Where the Red Fern Grows is probably my next favorite. Both books uphold ideals of reason and simple trust and love. The sadness in the books have helped (along with the best textbook, the Bible) to face times of challenge in my own life. When my son was accused of a horrible act that he just did not do, holding on to reason and knowing the sun rises each day brought back thoughts from the three books mentioned. My son pled “no contest” not knowing the real consequences, but he is taking one day at a time and giving me hope that he will some day be like Joseph rather than the black gentleman in To Kill a Mocking Bird. Your love of the book makes you more human to me. Thank you.

  23. FosterBoys says:

    Please come back from vacation soon. I went over to your Facebook page because it looks like you post there every day. Now THERE’S and angry mob. Good thing this blog has a moderator. You’d never allow the things people say to each other (and to you) to be said here. Ahh, sweet sanctuary.

    Seriously, come back soon. Summer’s too boring without you.

  24. Anniken says:

    Hi DrPhil , i’m from norway, and I’m following your show!
    I’m not so good at english.. But I try (:

  25. Christine King says:

    I read “To Kill a Mockingbird” when I was 16 at high school, and adored it. Just recently borrowed it from the library and as a result, decided to buy my own copy.
    There are so many characters I love in the book – Atticus, Boo Radley, Scout . (Love all their names!) Most of the characters are pretty outstanding, really, even the bad ones. They’re just so powerfully described.
    At the time when we were reading To Kill a Mockingbird in class, there were 2 new kids who came to school, refugees from Timor, Jose and Innes. Some members of my family were really upset with me for making friends with them, for all the same racist reasons as described in the book – and this was so, even though many in my family were war refugees themselves!! Ah, but we were white, and “Christian” so that made it OK.
    Thank goodness for people like Harper Lee, who can write things like this that make people think and feel.

  26. ciaobello says:

    I’m a fan of this wonderful book as well. As usual, it’s still better than the movie, which is great.

  27. Stephanie Libby says:

    I joined a library book club last year and the director suggested we read this as one of our books so for our meeting in October we are going to discuss that book.

  28. John Venable says:

    Hi Dr.Phil I love your show I watch it everyday.

  29. Ben says:

    Hi Dr Phil , I am from Western Australia 28 yr old male,
    i went and hire to kill a mocking bird because you said it was your favorite film,
    and actually i needed to pay alot of attention to the movie ,if i didnt i really just lost the plot ,but after watching the movie from start to finish i would have to say it is the best movie i have seen, and alot of truth to it “Other word we all just need to try to get on! For the great a Good and remember our true savour Jesus Christ -Ben Perth Western Australia.

  30. Eloise Walton says:

    I recently received a copy of AARP Bulletin September 2010 vol 51 no. 7 and was shocked to find a list of books banned by American schools and libraries. Among the list was Lee Harper’s “To Kill A Mockingbird”. I am so taken aback that this wonderful book and many others I have read made this list, that I felt compelled to write to Oprah and comment here on Dr. Phils site. Who are these people that decide what is acceptable for others to read and if this article is correct how dare they remove them from schools and libraries.These are classics and should be part of every curriculum.

  31. Terri says:

    The book that moved me the most was read when I was about 10 years old too. I remember I was home sick from school. My dad had to leave for work around 4pm and my mom wouldn’t be home till around 5:30 or 6. I was naturally afraid, being left alone, probably for the very first time, and as I lay in my parents bed I began to read A Stone For Danny Fisher. I just couldn’t stop reading it. I cried and cried, and I can’t really even remember the story much. I am now 50 years old, and one day, I must get another copy of the book and read it again!

  32. J. O'Brien says:

    Dr. Phil,

    It was with pleasure that I read your piece about TKAM (as teachers often call the book). I never read the book growing up, but when teaching 9th grade, I picked it up to prepare for class and was blown away. I can say this even though I had watched the movie while growing up with my family. (It’s a great movie, but it isn’t the same and the book.) It is a timeless novel. Yes, we still have a long way to go; and, true, we do have a black man in the White House, but years into his Presidency, people still will not leave him alone and let him try to do his job.

    Recently I finished The Help and I found it also a novel with important messages, which provided an honest look into our nation’s past—so much of it not too pretty. I look at it as a “Mockingbird” for today. However, I believe that TKAM should be required reading for every student in America. Its beauty is its ability to speak, as you mentioned, of so many important and valuable things that we should never forget.

    Thanks for celebrating this wonderful book. It is a “national treasure.”

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