I just started it with my 9 1/2 year old girl. She is reading several grade levels ahead (she is currently in 4th grade). We are reading it together with a dictionary by our side since many of words used are hard to explain. I think I had to read it in 9th grade. So far so good. She is enjoying it.
No one should be forced to read this book. The book is garbage if you really want your kids to learn about something then read The Color Of Water. To Kill A Mockingbird is the most overrated book that you'll have to read in school so why bother even looking at a age range for it? It's boring, the plot is easy to figure out after the first few pages, and anyone who knows the history of the United States knows that if a black man looked at a white female they would be accused of rape.
Steven, before you are critcal of the writing skills of others, make sure you can compose a correctly written English sentence. Run-on sentences and the incorrect agreement of a subject and its antecedent only help to point out your lack of knowledge concerning the English language. Please stay in school and keep reading.
Hmpff people say the plot is so easily figured out, but this is no action drama. It's a story based on real life with real characters. What do you expect? And just one more thing to note, I'd assume you've already read the synopsis of the novel before you started the novel? Doesn't that already give you the overall plot?
For some reason Steven has a problem with people who like this book. It doesn't seem sufficient to say he doesn't like it and acknowledge that others have different opinions (as C Becker does above). If you read his review of the book, he actually believes -- at least he says he does -- that the book should not be "allowed to be read."
And for good measure, presumably to prevent anyone from forming an opinion different from his, he insists that all copies "should be burned."
I first read it to my daughter as a bedtime story when she was two or three. I'm reading it to my five and seven year old boys now. (My five year old son is actually named Scout after Jean Louise. Don't ask - a lot of people look at me a bit oddly when I tell them.)
I do censor racist language and the court scenes at this age, but feel the rest of the book to be fairly decent for my children because so much of it is about childhood.
I read it when I was twelve, fully, but I was ahead in my reading. I still think that I understood it. Anyway, in answer to your question, any age that you think they would be able to understand it and grasp the meaning of it. I would say 12+.
I first read this Classic when I was 10. My mother was a teacher allowing us to read the books she thought we were ready for, both intellectually and emotionally. I reread this gem every 3 or 4 years and it still is among my favorite books of all time.
Find a good book for your child to read, not this overrated tale of two-dimensional characters, which self-righteously portrays the helplessness of blacks and their great white liberal savior. You would do better with "Alice in Wonderland."
Knowing that many of the characters in the book are based on real people (Atticus Finch was based on Harper Lee's father; Dill on her childhood friend, Truman Capote), "two-dimensional" simply doesn't cut it as incisive criticism, much less insight.
And we shouldn't forget that the "great white liberal savior" FAILED to save Tom Robinson from the false charge of rape.
The "helplessness" of blacks in the South was engineered and maintained at great expense by the white political leadership of the times, which, for all intents, resurrected slavery for nearly a century after it was supposedly abolished. That the South was an economic backwater during that time is not a coincidence.
You might want to read up on the history of injustice for blacks in the South during that period. In the case of a charge of a black man charged with rape, "presumption of innocence" flew out the window. Contrast the number of white men executed for rape with the number of blacks in that period. Then you might give us a reading list of books by white southern writers who dealt with that reality at the time it was happening. Having done that, you may rightfully take your "vorpal sword in hand" and cut our arguments down to size.
The possibility that characters in TKM were based on real people does not negate the fact that characterization in this novel lacks complexity and nuance, something that accomplished writers don't do.
If southerners engineered black helplessness, as you suggest, then the civil rights movement could not have taken place. Portraying blacks as helplessly in need of white saviors speaks down to blacks, while reinforcing self-righteousness among the caretakers of the liberal plantation, where blacks depend on government programs, entitlements and welfare if they're to get along in this life.
The unintended consequences of compassionate liberal policies, such as Great Society legislation, include the devastation of the black family and emasculation black males. It also instilled in blacks the mentality that they are entitled to special privileges and handouts, and rocketed the racial grievance industry of Jackson, Sharpton et al into orbit.
I once saw on TV a black female lit professor from a prestigious university rate TKM as poor literature and give cogent reasons for her disdain of the book. TKM is not good literature, and drudging up past southern injustice and violence toward blacks does not change the spots on this leopard.
Apparently, your objections to Mockingbird are more vigorously informed by politics than either by literature or an unblinking look at the realities faced by blacks in the time and setting of the novel.
That's a fair argument but not one that supports your particular objections to the novel. I like it, you don't, and we come to it from such different directions that I doubt either of us can nudge the other toward a more conciliatory view.
The sad facts of social and political reality are another thing altogether. At the time of TKAM, most of the country outside the South simply didn't care. The Blacks who did protest simply "disappeared." Emmett Till gained attention only because he was from Chicago and his murder gained traction in the Northern press. The backwaters of the South were graves to many native blacks perceived to have stepped out of line, and with little exception never caused a ripple of objection.
Till's death was the break in the dike that unleashed the forces that ended de facto slavery a century after it was legally abolished. -- A black man in the twenties working for a white farmer, for instance, was forbidden by law from quitting in order to take a higher paying job (If he could find one). And there was no "Great Society" legislation in the pipeline waiting to help.
Rosa Parks wasn't the first to protest segregated conditions in Montgomery; she was just the first to do so and be backed up by the rest of the nation's conscience. If it hadn't been for white "saviors" brave enough to stand up alongside Blacks in the face of water cannons, dogs and bullets, Rosa Parks and people like her would be just another poor black in jail and out of a job.
If James Chaney had been the only person murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964, we wouldn't have heard of him either. But two white guys from the north, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman were also murdered. That attracted attention at the time, sadly, as the murder of a Black man could not. As with Emmett Till, the suspects were acquitted and later bragged about getting away with it.
Finally, contrast the fate of the Jews in Germany, Poland and Austria in the 30s and 40s. Educated, professional and major contributors to European culture, they were still crushed by the forces of Hitler. Then consider that Blacks in the South were kept uneducated, disenfranchised and poor. Do you actually think they could have -- independently -- succeeded better than the Jews of Europe and overcome the massive machinery of oppression engineered to keep them down?
- - - - For the record, and not that it gives my argument any scintilla of extra authority, I am a native of Laurel, Mississippi, located in Jones County, which seceded from the South and rebelled against the confederacy during the Civil War. One of the leaders of the rebellion was Newton Knight, who was openly married to a black woman. Their children, from former marriages, married each other and their descendants are alive today.
It all flows together in a rich, dazzling and complicated history of the South that is so much more interesting than quick and easy generalizations.
I mention this only because it may serve to explain that my personal interest is more than just an idle obsession.
Jones County did not secede from the CSA although it did become a haven for Confederate deserters during the war. It also raised two companies of riflemen for two Mississippi regiments, both of which fought in the Army of Tennessee from Murfreesboro to Bentonville. Don't overstate historical fact. Moreover, comparing European Jewry in the early 20th Century to slavery in America is like comparing apples to aardvarks. Politics and history aside, I don't think TKAM is a very good novel because of the reasons I've already stated above. 9th- and 10th-grade novels I consider superior to it include All Quiet on the Western Front, Anthem, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Animal Farm, and Something Wicked This Way Comes, among others.
I am going to try this book with my kiddos who are 9,11, and 13. We just finished Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and loved it. I don't know that I think there is a "should" age. I am sharing this book because I love it and because it speaks to themes I find important to discuss: dignity, equality, courage, integrity...