Wednesday, October 3, 2012

BBW - Interview With a Teen - To Kill a Mockingbird



Jackie is my 15 year old neighbor who is a sophomore at the local high school. For Banned Books Week 2012 she agreed to do an interview on her reading of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The series was challenged in 2011 because of offensive language and racism. Here is what she has to say.
 
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Me: First I have to ask, what are your thoughts on banning books?

Jackie: I would have to say I don't like the idea very much but I can understand it in a way. I don't think that people should ban fiction books that someone has completely come up with by themselves. I mean, they took a lot of time and effort to create this story. On the other hand if people noticed that the story was really like a plot against us I can understand that they would want to ban that book.

Me: What are your overall thoughts on To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee?

Jackie: I think that this book gives a good depiction of what it was like back in the 1930s. It shows what you would be doing if you we're a white child and what you were doing if you we're black. Also it exhibits a good understanding of how black people were treated in this time. I think that some people still don't understand how we treated the colored people in the past. Along with that it shows that all whites didn't treat colored people badly.

Me: Did you like the book?

Jackie: Yes I really enjoyed reading this book. Even though at first I didn't really like reading the book, I came to love it in the end.

Me: Why did you read To Kill a Mockingbird?


Jackie: I had to read it last year for my English class in school. It was one of the required books to read in our class.

Me: Sounds familiar, I read the book for school as well. What did you like the most about the book?

Jackie: I liked how it was told from scouts point of view. It was interesting to see how a child's mind worked in a situation like this and just having the thoughts that a child would have.

Me: What did you like the least about the book?

Jackie: I would say the thing that I liked least about the book is in the beginning when it transferred from the present Scout back to her childhood. I was a little confusing at first. Also there was a little sections of the book that I didn't understand too much but other than that I found the book very interesting.
Me: What did you learn from reading To Kill a Mockingbird?
Jackie:  I learned that during the 1930s, tithing really helped black people at all. Even if they were proved to be innocent, people didn't care and said that they were guilty of whatever crime they were accused of. I also learned about how the life of a white child was in the 1930s.

Me: Did you find the language to be offensive?

Jackie: No I didn't find the language offensive in this book. I don't think that because during the 1930s that is the way that they talked. If they didn't have that kind of language in the book then it wouldn't be a good setting choice on the author’s part then. Also, the language in the book helped get the point across to the readers.
Me: Do you think the language is enough for the book to be challenged? Why?

Jackie: I don't think this book should be challenged just because of the language. If they were banning books because of that reason then why isn't Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck on the list. That book has similar language in it. In addition to that, if they were going by the language of the book, then they would have to go and ban all the books with that language because it isn't fair to the author that their book got ban because of the language when it is similar to others with the same language and they didn't get banned.
Me: I'll have to check on that. The list goes well beyond the top ten that I gave you. Now, it has been a long time since I read To Kill a Mockingbird and I’m curious, what are your thoughts on the racism aspect of the book?
Jackie: Well, in my opinion, this book gives a good example of how there was racism in the 1930s. It really shows how bad the African Americans were treated by the white people. The Americans really didn't give them any rights whatsoever. When I think about it I realize how cruel we once were.

Me: Are you surprised that To Kill a Mockingbird is on the banned book list? Why?

Jackie: Yes I am surprised that To Kill a Mockingbird is on the banned books list. I know that there are some schools that refuse to read this book but to me it was a good book that just shows how bad racism was in the 1930s.
Me: Would you recommend this book to your friends? Why?
Jackie: I would recommend this book to some of my friends that like learning about the past. I enjoyed reading this and I learned a lot from reading the book. I probably wouldn't recommend this book to someone who isn't in to this topic because I think that they might find this book a little boring then.

Me: Are there other books on the list of the top 10 books challenged in 2011 you would like to read? Why?
Jackie: Yes, I would actually. I would like to read the Hunger Games series that is on the list. I saw the movie and it was really good. I heard that the book was way better so I wanted to read it. I find the concept interesting too because it could happen one day. Maybe that's why they want to ban it.

Me: Were you surprised by any of the books on the list?

Jackie: I was surprised that The Hunger Games was on it. I mean it just became a movie not too long ago. If they were going to ban the book why would you have made a movie about it? I just find it surprising that they would ban something that is so popular and different from other stories out there.

Me: Surprisingly Twilight has even made it's own appearance in the top ten. Are there any other thoughts you would like to share about banned books?

Jackie: I think that the people who are deciding to ban books need to realize that the books are just stories. Someone came up with idea and wrote it out in a form that people can experience the idea they came up with. Also I think that if you ban books, it’s an insult to the author that spent so much time in writing the book. Especially if there are stories with the same things that you are banning that specific book for.


I’d like to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on To Kill a Mockingbird and banned books. 

Don't miss this week's other Interview With a Teen posts:
Dawn on The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Tuesday 
Emma on ttyl by Lauren Myracle - Thursday

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