Why To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Should Win the Great American Read

The Great American Read is an eight-part television series celebrating and discussing America’s top 100 novels as chosen by a survey of approximately 7,200 people.  Americans can vote on their favorite book once a day until the winner is revealed on October 23.  Here at Pages Unbound, we’re joining the fun by reading, reviewing, and discussing some of the nominees!

Disclaimer: My favorite book ever is The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and I have already decided to #VOTELOTR for the Great American Read.  (You can read Krysta’s post on why LotR should win here.) However, there a number of other fabulous books that have been nominated, and I want to share some reasons they might also deserve to win (or reasons you might want to read them).

1. To Kill a Mockingbird is an American book.

Technically this competition is about what books Americans love to read, not books by American authors that are great.  However, you can make an argument for voting for an American book, and To Kill a Mockingbird is a strong contender.  The book tackles tough issues of race in America.  It explores small town living in America.  It has been on American reading lists in classroom for years.  When I think of “Great American Books,” To Kill a Mockingbird comes to mind.   (I mean, some people argue that  Moby Dick by Herman Melville is the “great American epic,” but few people really enjoy reading Moby Dick.)

2. It Tackles Tough Issues

As I mentioned in the previous point, To Kill a Mockingbird tackles some tough issues, most notably issues around race and justice in the court system for people of color.  Of course, the book was published in 1960, so the story doesn’t have a one-to-one correspondence to race issues today, but its messages about tolerance, justice, and bravery are still relevant today.

3. But it’s about more than race.

Obviously, the main character is Scout, a young girl growing up in a small Alabama town.  The novel is often classified as “coming-of-age” fiction, and it’s also about how Scout deals with learning that the world isn’t fair and that people aren’t always who she thought–for better or for worse.

4. It’s complex but highly readable.

Yet with all the complex topics it takes on, To Kill a Mockingbird is highly readable and engaging. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I like it each time I reread it.  It tends to be a favorite among books “people were forced against their will to read for school.”  Most people I know who have read it like it.  Basically, it’s a whole package of tough questions, strong prose, engaging plot, and interesting characters.


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Previous posts on the Great American Read


10 thoughts on “Why To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Should Win the Great American Read

  1. Geraldine @ Corralling Books says:

    Im not American, so I cant really comment about why TKAM should be win the Great American Read award, but I reckon the issues it discusses are still relevant today, so people should definitely read this book still today (even though many people stick it with that category of school books)


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I think we should just have the Great World Read at this point and let everyone vote in a massive competition. :p

      Yes! I think sometimes being a book people read in school makes people think the book must be boring, when that is often not the case!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dale says:

    I like the point you make about To Kill A Mockingbird being “highly readable”. I enjoyed reading Moby Dick but I had to put forth a lot more effort to enjoy it. A book doesn’t have to be difficult to be good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      My initial reaction to reading Moby Dick in college was “Wow, this isn’t quite as boring as people say!” So I think I had such low expectations that they were pleasantly surpassed. I did have to skip the “let me describe types of whales” chapter though, to keep my reading momentum going. It turns out I was correct that that chapter would not play a key role in class discussion anyway….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Samantha Duffy says:

    I completely agree with you! Personally I am on team Harry Potter (duh) but when I think about it from a different perspective- like what book takes on the American persona, I agree that TKAMB is deff a strong contender! I feel like that is a really great way to look at the competition too! Which books (that we coincidentally love) are a great representation of an American life? Which books scream AMERICA whether it be American struggles or issues, or just something that makes you feel oh so American.


  4. Michael J. Miller says:

    Your point about the accessibility of and interaction with ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ (as opposed to ‘Moby Dick’) is an important one, I think. I wrestle with this all the time come Oscar season. Normally “Best Picture” goes to a film that hasn’t been seen by the majority of film goers, whether out of lack of interest or it playing in limited release or both. I grant an artistic appraisal of a work isn’t looking for what the court of popular opinion is. But I think, to take a title like “greatest” or “best,” some thought must be given to both categories – what holds the highest artistic merit that also reaches/touches a great number of people. “To Kill A Mockingbird’ is a perfect example of a work that hits both categories.

    That being said, I’m still voting for ‘The Alchemist’ as often as I can :).


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