Last summer, I became convinced upon rereading To Kill a Mockingbird for a book group that it would be a good book to read with my daughter. As far as racism goes, I don't believe that any fiction (that I've read) achieves its purpose as superbly and eloquently as TKAM.
After rereading it for the first time since high school, I decided that high school was perhaps too late to try to have an effect on an adolescent's opinion toward others based on race. I decided to read it with my daughter now.
We didn't start until about two months ago and only read a few pages a night and only on nights that I'm not at school and the kids aren't with their dad. I told her that she could only read it with me because I wanted to be able to explain things (the "n" word, the rape, slavery, etc.) if she had questions. I had decided that my purpose was to tackle the race issues and not so much the rape and I only plan to give her an age appropriate explanation when we get to that part and only if she asks. I'm hoping that Atticus' explanation to Scout suits Jenna as well.
So, we're about a third of the way through right now. At the beginning, I thought maybe we should abandon it because the diction is perhaps too challenging and she seemed bored at times. But, lately, she's becoming very interested and complains heartily when it's time to put it away for the night.
Tonight, she told me that she sometimes wants "so bad" to pick it up and read it herself but she knows that it's something I want to read with her.
I was so damned proud. Of myself for trusting my instinct that this would be a good book for her. Of her for being so much more than me but still having this one, specific quality that is so undeniably me and knowing that we connect beyond the obvious.
I know, I know, it seems little. To me, though, this is what it's all about.