To Kill a Mockingbird: 50 years later

I was forced to read it in eighth grade. I don’t remember particularly liking it, so I put it on a shelf and didn’t open it again until a couple months ago when I moved from Ohio, to Alabama. I’m talking about To Kill a Mockingbird, that iconic Southern gothic by Alabama native Harper Lee.

Before moving to the Deep South, I began reading books about it to get familiar with the region and its culture and history. I kept hearing buzz about Mockingbird and couldn’t figure out why, after all these years, I was hearing about it again. I picked up my dusty, old copy, giggled at my maiden name written in childish handwriting inside the front cover.

I should have noticed the original publication date: 1960, which makes 2010 the book’s fiftieth anniversary. Ah-hah. That’s the reason for all the hype.


For those of you who live under a rock and have never read it (or who haven’t read it since middle school!) here’s a general synopsis from Barnes and Noble:

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Once upon a time, To Kill a Mockingbird was a staple in English classrooms across the U.S. There’s a movement toward using current YA literature in classes (which we totally support here at Novel Novice!) but sometimes, it’s good to revisit the classics. This is why we’ll be bringing you a series of posts on the various anniversary celebrations happening during the rest of the year. We’ll also talk about why it still endures as an American classic.


Because Harper Lee hails from Alabama, there are a number of events going on across the state over the next few months. I’ll be focusing on these. Here are a few sources to get you started:

Is your school/group honoring To Kill a Mockingbird this year? Tell us about it by shooting an e-mail to

4 thoughts on “To Kill a Mockingbird: 50 years later

Add yours

  1. This is one of my all time favorite books! I loved it in 5th grade, and I love it now. It’s one of the few books I can read again and again.

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