To Kill a Mockingbird book club
Last year for 8th grade I put together a list of books I wanted the kids to read, and we went through and read two books dealing with race. I hopped on Facebook and asked everyone which should we read first: Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird? We had this great discussion, and everyone said, “Read Huckleberry Finn first, to get the roots of racism in America, and it will make To Kill a Mockingbird mean so much more.” They were right. After reading the low-level and often more dangerous racism of Huckleberry Finn, the kids understood the outright racism in To Kill a Mockingbird (I’m going to go into this a whole lot more when we get to our discussion). But To Kill a Mockingbird made a great book and a movie night, and was an AMAZING discussion for all of us.
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To Kill a Mockingbird synopsis
To Kill a Mockingbird follows Scout Finch as she comes of age watching her father fight to free a black man unjustly accused of raping a white woman.
That’s the short summary, there’s a whole lot more to this book, and it’s easy to see why it’s captivated so many people and got so many people talking about it, and why you so often see To Kill a Mockingbird book clubs.
The Big To Kill a Mockingbird controversy
To Kill a Mockingbird was all over the news a few years ago when the author’s second book was released a few years after her death. Everyone I knew who was a huge fan of the book all were talking for weeks before it came out, and then it came out. They all hated it. All of them. “It betrayed my childhood!” “It changed Atticus. How could they do that?”
Go Set a Watchman is set two decades after her first book and grown up Scout comes back to Maycomb to visit her father.
Sounds sweet right, but in the book there were all sorts of revelations about Atticus that had my friends upset, he was revealed to not be this shining pillar standing up for what was right, but just as flawed as anyone else, and also just as racist as all his neighbors.
I haven’t read the book, this is what I got from all of my friends who read it. After hearing their complaints I chose not to read the book, because I was pretty sure it would just get me mad.
Did you read it? What did you think?
To Kill a Mockingbird book club
Our To Kill a Mockingbird book club used the 7 Sisters To Kill a Mockingbird discussion guide. Since we did this fairly shortly after they read Little Women and had such a hard time with that one, and a similarly hard time with the Huckleberry Finn discussion guide. I decided we would meet weekly to work on it together.
Also, there’s a lot to discuss in this book.
The 7 Sisters dicussion guide focuses on setting and comparisons. So we talked through that every 40 pages, but we also discussed point of view and how our opinions are shaped by where we grew up and what we perceive as normal.
We looked at the setting in Maycomb as ridiculous. We would never treat someone that way. I asked, but would our opinion be different if that’s the way we grew up?
It’s an interesting discussion
But, back to my statement of “low level racism in Huckleberry Finn* versus the outright racism of To Kill a Mockingbird.”
I can hear you now, “But Ticia, in Huckleberry Finn there is outright slavery, how is that not outright racism?”
It’s in the point of view character. Huck Finn seems nice. He feels like he’s friends with Jim, but he still feels superior to Jim. It’s insidious.
Like root beer.
Okay, it’s not really related at all, but I love that scene, and as soon as I typed the word insidious I thought of it.
But, you sympathize with Huck, and you don’t see his attitude. He’s fun and likable.
The people of Maycomb, you see their racism. It’s in the laws and their willingness to kill a man without a trial, and even kill Atticus because he got in their way.
That’s ugly, it disgusts us.
My kids could see the problem because it was black and white. They saw the miscarriage of justice.
It was harder to see in Huckleberry Finn.
As we talked about the book, we also talked about how the United States got from racism to segregation. We talked about what could have changed after the Civil War to not have the results we got, and if it’s even possible (I’m not sure it is, but I think Reconstruction made it worse).
Afterwards we started talking about The Hate U Give, which had recently come out and how that could be an interesting third book to read with these two, but I wasn’t sure if the kids were quite mentally ready for it yet.
If you are able to, I highly suggest reading these two books together.
*I just realized I haven’t written my post about that book club yet, and I need to get that done.
To Kill a Mockingbird book club snacks
Okay, some of these To Kill a Mockingbird snacks are somewhat based off of names, and slightly punnish. I also realized as I was puttnig this post together, I either forgot to make a snack, or didn’t take a picture of one, because there’s no picture. Also, I couldn’t fit all of the snacks we had into this collage.
- Scout’s bananas to bulk up- banana bread, I think this was one of Batman’s cooking assignments, it could have just been bananas, but I love banana bread
- Miss Maudie’s Cakes- a big plot point was her cakes she made, so I used a mini bundt pan to make some yummy cakes
- Hame costume- Ham deli meat rolled up, I couldn’t find toothpicks to put in them
- Colored People of Maycombe- gingerbread cookies, this was such a plot point, it had to be in there
- White People of Maycombe- sugar cookies
- The Ewell House was built on a trash heap- Hershey Crunchers
- Didn’t You Know Atticus is the Best Shot?- beef sticks to represent a rifle
- Cracklin’ Bread- Made from a recipe like this
- Dill- cucumber dill cream cheese sandwiches, always popular with Princess and I
- Collard Green Patch- I just made a normal salad because I know collard greens aren’t popular here (yes, that may mean I need to turn in my Southern card)
- Tom Robinson’s Trial- a pretzel stick and a marshmallow, they were meant to look like the judge’s gavel
- Fried Chicken- a traditional Southern food brought up in the book
- It’s Just Coke Son- one of the characters had a flask he carried around, and he shared it with Jem
- Miss Maudie’s House Fire- Big Red, because my kids love an excuse to get Big Red
- Ladie’s Missionary Tea- I was going to make some small cookies, but we had so many snacks…
- To Kill a Mockingbird- a bird sugar cookie using a cookie cutter from this set
- Boo Radley- Sour Patch kids, because my kids are obsessed with them right now and movie nights are the only time I get them out for the kids
Some Inspiration I found for To Kill a Mockingbird snacks
Whenever I’m planning one of these movie nights, I always do a search for different ideas people have had, this is one of the more popular books, so I had lots of possible inspirations this time.
- Tasting Table To Kill a Mockingbird
- Big Read NOLA food in To Kill a Mockingbird (I can’t find the actual post, just the PDF)
- Leaf and Leaves To Kill a Mockingbird recipes
- To Kill a Mockingbird Pinterest board
More 6th Grade Reading Fun
While we read To Kill a Mockingbird in 8th grade, on my Book List (you’ve subscribed to get the coupon for free printable bookmarks, right?) it’s listed as 6th grade.