Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Mockingbird

The tall eighth grade girl stopped at my desk, "Do you have the mockingbird book?". Peering out from under my glasses, in my best librarian look I answered "we do, To Kill a Mockingbird?". She was not one of the select few students I had identified as a reader, usually choosing to spend her library time talking with her friends or scribbling in the margins of her paper. This was sure to be one of those moments part time volunteer librarians dream of, a breakthrough, a chance to really make a difference in the life of one young African American student who, up until this point, had quite likely used her library book as a place to rest her cell phone at night.

"Is it a romance?"

Mid leap across my desk I stopped, "no, it's not. Do you know anything about the book?". She did not, but thought that perhaps it was a mystery, something very scary, given the title. Unfortunately for her she was asking about my favorite book, one I have read at least 7 times. A book I find more engaging each time I read it, one that changes with me as I get older. My girls know who Boo Radley is because when we have our family favorite book discussions, this is always my choice. They know as much of the story as I find appropriate for a six year old, stressing that from Boo we learn to never judge a book by it's cover. My cheeks warmed with the dewy love glow that teenagers get when they see the cute boy from room 207 standing by his locker, To Kill a Mockingbird affects me that way. I gush, and talk in circles, "it's the best book, and it's not scary, well not really, a little, but not in a scary vampire way. And there is mystery, but it's also very disturbing, very, with racism and hatred, and things difficult to imagine. But there are wonderfully drawn characters and places, it's a lovely book, one that will stay with you for a very long time".

We found it on the shelf and she inspected the cover. Curious I ask why she chose to read this book, "I saw a picture of Barack Obama reading it".

Well done Mr. President.


Rob Marvin MD said...

Pictures do speak to us!!

My hardcover copy is never far from my reach; it is the go-to book for me at least once per year. When I reach the third page and the narrator writes, " … it was a tired old town when I first knew it," my schedule is shot; Maycomb becomes my life for the next few hours.

The book taught me, at a young age, the power of words; I pined for years in hopes of getting an opportunity to use the phrase "unmitigated temerity" in a conversation!!

I hate you, Ally. I don't have time for this but now I HAVE to sit down for another visit with Atticus, Jem, Scout, Boo, and blessed Cal!!

northsidefour said...

Me too, it just bumped The Help and The Piano Teacher from the top of the pile.


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