Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Favorite, Ever.

March 23, 2008

The Sunday

"Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s
gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.
That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird."

I can't really write much this evening because I need to go read a few more chapters in my favorite book, ever. That would be To Kill a Mockingbird, and I have the supreme pleasure of getting to introduce this most marvelous novel to my students tomorrow, and talk about it for two whole hours. And two hours the next week, and two hours the next week. Bliss.

It’s hard for me to explain what happens each time I begin reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I actually get shivers of excitement. I can say with assurance that this happens with no other novel. I have read this novel at least a half-dozen times, and this weekend I’ve begun reading it yet again and also preparing discussion questions.
This quote by Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva explains this feeling well: "There are books so alive that you're always afraid that while you weren't reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river; while you went on living, it went on living too, and like a river moved on and moved away. No one has stepped twice into the same river. But did anyone ever step twice into the same book?"

I’m not alone in my feelings for To Kill a Mockingbird. In 1991 the Library of Congress conducted a survey of book readers. Readers were asked to cite books that had made a difference in their lives. One of the books most often cited was Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The only book ranked higher by readers was the Bible.

Post A Comment!.....


Sunday, March 23, 2008 - sister ...

Posted by onfire (

totally with you on this one.

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Monday, March 24, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (

Yup. It is second to the Bible to me! :) Can't wait for the day my kids are ready to read it!!

Back in the day when we got our first VCR, I asked for To Kill a Mockingbird on VHS and my brother got Top Gun. :)

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Monday, March 24, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (

I've never read this buy based on your post have just added it to my wish list.

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Monday, March 24, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Ann (Table Talk) (

I've just been discussing 'Cry the Beloved Country' with Jennifer in the same way. I absolutely love it and introduce it to as many student groups as I possible can. It's a wonderful feeling, isn't it?

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Monday, March 24, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (

I'm going to make an admission...

I've NEVER read To Kill a Mockingbird. And I have a freakin' MA in literature. Sad, I know. However, it is on my shelf, ready to go, and it's post like yours that get me really excited to read it.

Love your blog! Happy Sunday Salon.


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Monday, March 24, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Margaret (

Aw, you're making me feel like I need to go read it again! Agree with you completely.


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Wednesday, March 26, 2008 - hey

Posted by Beckyg (

thanks for stopping by!
i love love love To Kill A Mockingbird! I have not read the book, but the movie is my favorite! My daughter's middle name is Harper .... it was my great-grandmother's maiden name, but Harper Lee did have a bit of influence too!

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Friday, March 28, 2008 - Tell me more

Posted by HomeForHim (

Hey Sarah,
I just spent the last hour reading through your reviews and adding to my TBR list. Gosh, I can't believe I've never read To Kill a Mockingbird....what a little world I live in. LOL Tell me more about the class you are teaching....I am interested.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Spring!!

March 20, 2008

In fitting with Spring as a time of celebration and new birth, my newborn great-nephew Justus came through yesterday's surgery quite well. I know his Mama and Daddy are eager for the day when they can take him home, probably in about 10 days.

So today is the first day of spring, and the sun is shining and flowers fairly bursting. A good day to get outside and breathe. And now a word from one of my favorite poets, e.e. cummings:

when faces called flowers float out of the ground

when faces called flowers float out of the ground
and breathing is wishing and wishing is having-
but keeping is downward and doubting and never
-it's april (yes,april;my darling)it's spring!
yes the pretty birds frolic as spry as can fly
yes the little fish gambol as glad as can be
yes the little fish gambol as glad as can be
(yes the mountains are dancing together)
when every leaf opens without any sound
and wishing is having and having is giving-
but keeping is doting and nothing and nonsense
-alive;we're alive,dear:it's(kiss me now)spring!
now the pretty birds hover so she and so he
now the little fish quiver so you and so i
(now the mountains are dancing, the mountains)
when more than was lost has been found has been found
and having is giving and giving is living-
but keeping is darkness and winter and cringing
-it's spring(all our night becomes day)o,it's spring!
all the pretty birds dive to the heart of the sky
all the little fish climb through the mind of the sea
(all the mountains are dancing;are dancing)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Reading with Children

March 16, 2008

"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."
~Victor Hugo

This isn't a typical Sunday Salon post, I know. But I was thinking today about how vital reading is with each of my children and within our family in general. These past six months my youngest has quickly transitioned from really easy readers, such as the Bob Books (in the photo below), to the Frog and Toad Are Friends level. I am continually amazed with the rapidity with which he progresses in his reading.

My daughter was somewhat of a reluctant reader. I was actually experiencing some fear, a few years ago, that she would just not be a voracious reader. (We do have one or two such aberrations in our extended family.) Fortunately, she was just a late bloomer. She knows that it is nearly impossible for me to command her to "turn out the light" when she says, "But Mama, can't I just read one more chapter? I have to read before I go to sleep!" These past couple of months I've had the most wonderful time reading books to her in the evening that were my favorite books at her age. It doesn't get much better than that.

And then there is my oldest, who eats books. We have literally been reading to him since the day we brought him home from the hospital. Our college humanities text Western Civilization was one of his first read-alouds. (We got to Good-night Moon later.) This year has been especially fun, as I've been teaching an American Literature class of which he is a part. Sharing classics with your teen is an amazing experience.

So this year I've had the privilege of guiding my youngest to hone his reading skills, sharing girlhood favorites with my daughter, and discussing and analyzing great works of American literature with my teenager. That is reading at its finest.

The Sunday