To Kill a Mockingbird

In the past my library has been fortunate to be included in The Big Read grants applied for by the Milwaukee Public Library.  This time around, the applicant for the grant was the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.  Each spring and fall our library does a mini-version of the one community book discussion called Greendale Reads so we hopped on board the plans to discuss Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  Our discussions at Greendale are led by Dr. Edwin Block from the English Department of Marquette University and they are always well appreciated by those who come.

Our library was one of the last book discussions of many in the area, taking on the discussion late in the run of the stage production.  We had 26 people show up for a discussion of the novel, a good majority of whom had also seen the play.  The education director from the theater company and The Big Read Intern also attended and a drawing was held for free tickets to a future show.

The novel itself is an excellent choice for a book discussion and appears to be on many people’s all-time favorite list of books.  I felt the main issue that we wrestled with the night of our discussion was not the obvious (race relations, small town life, coming of age, standing up for what is right) but a question of whose story we were actually reading about over the course of the book.

Those of us who live in the Milwaukee area are fortunate to have such a high quality theater and their current production of To Kill a Mockingbird is no exception.  All of us are also fortunate that the National Endowment for the Arts continues to have the money to support these great book discussions.

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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