I've had this button for a really really long time. I never thought I would be writing about it in 2014.
In fact, I hadn't thought about it at all until I recently heard a panel discussion on banned books at the SCBWI 2014 conference in NYC.
When I got home, I dug through a box in the back of my drawer to see if I still had it. Then, I searched the ALA (American Libraries Association) site to read through the frequently banned books list. To Kill a Mockingbird jumped off the page because it had such a profound effect on me. To Kill a Mockingbird changed me. It challenged me to think about other people in a way that I had never before. It awakened my mind to a new way of seeing people - it changed my perspective.
"First of all,' he said, '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...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.'" -Harper Lee
Atticus' words gave me a concrete and practical way to try and imagine myself as another person. If this book had been banned in my school and I never had the opportunity to read it, I would have lost something so rich and compelling; something that I've held on to for my entire life.
To Kill A Mockingbird did put an idea in my head that has stuck with me since I was a kid. That can be very scary for people. I think, for some parents, their fear is that their child will be different than them and so, if they can control what their child reads, sees in the movies and on tv, then their child won't get ideas in their heads and they won't change. It is a real fear. And I can empathize with that, maybe, just maybe because I read To Kill A Mockingbird.
I make my book choices based on thickness…okay, okay, not all the time. If I did, I would have missed out on some great thin books like The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I definitely have chosen by thickness though because I love to immerse myself in a good book for a really really long time.
I used to read the dictionary when I was a kid. It was a wonderfully thick book. I read the encyclopedia too but that's another story. I used to make up these word tree games and I brought them in for my teacher to teach to the class. (Yes, I was one of those kids.) I never understood why she didn't use them so one day I made copies for each of my classmates. I told my classmates to bring the papers back in when they were finished so I could correct them. What do you think happened?