Harper Lee's timeless coming-of-age novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, tells the story of racial injustice, the destruction of innocence, and the ever-enduring battle between good and evil, all through the eyes of seven-year-old Scout Finch. Though the novel describes a society that seems distant from our modern world, the voice of the young female narrator and the relatable cast of characters make the text accessible to students.

Because of its focus on class and race, To Kill a Mockingbird will promote conversations about discrimination and injustice. Students should make connections between historical racism depicted in this book and contemporary racial injustices they may witness today.

Due to the sensitive nature of the topics discussed in this book, it is essential to allow students the opportunity to have open and honest conversations about the stigmas surrounding race and class. Through the eyes of Scout, the novel's young narrator, students witness Scout, Jem, and Dill's loss of innocence as they grow up and learn life lessons throughout the novel. With its timeless themes, To Kill a Mockingbird remains a favorite for readers of all generations, both inside and outside the classroom.

Find out more about teaching To Kill a Mockingbird below.

Summary of To Kill a Mockingbird

Key Facts

  • Publication Date: 1960
  • Length: 376 pages
  • Lexile Measure: 870
  • Recommended Grade Band: 9-10

Set in 1930s Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated by Scout Finch, a young girl who spends the majority of her time with her older brother, Jem, and their neighbor, Dill. Over the course of three years together, they imagine all sorts of terrifying stories about the town recluse, a man named Boo Radley who they have never managed to see in person, despite their best attempts. Meanwhile, Scout and Jem's father, Atticus, is the defense attorney in the biggest criminal case their small town has ever seen: Tom Robinson, an African-American man, stands accused of raping a white woman. It is up to Atticus to convince a prejudiced jury of Tom's innocence.

Content Warning: To Kill a Mockingbird contains references to racial discrimination, including racial slurs. There are also some violent scenes, discussions of rape, and insinuations of incest.

What Your Students Will Love About To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Reading the story through the relatable eyes of a young narrator
  • The exciting narrative style that allows for discussion of social stigmas like class and race

Potential Student Struggles With To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Understanding the level of racial intolerance and hostility depicted in the novel
  • Some challenging dialect

Learning Objectives for To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Analyze the symbolism of the mockingbird within the novel.
  • Discuss how the use of first-person narration contributes to the reader's understanding of the novel's themes.
  • Explain how To Kill a Mockingbird functions as a coming-of-age novel.
  • Identify the role of class and race in Maycomb's society and explain how these factors affect the town's citizens.
  • Describe the role of education in the novel.

Literary Elements in To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Allusion
  • Flashback
  • Foreshadowing
  • Irony
  • Metaphor
  • Personification
  • Symbolism
  • And more!

Major Themes in To Kill a Mockingbird

Innocence — Throughout this novel, the mockingbird represents innocence. The title refers to the destruction of innocence that occurs, both through Tom's death and the heartbreaking lessons Scout and Jem learn about the world as they grow up.

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RaceTo Kill a Mockingbird depicts the persistent issue of racial discrimination and explores the effect this hostility has on the various characters within the novel.

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Good vs. Evil — This novel analyzes the clash of good and evil within society, especially when these two traits are present within the same character. In the end, students are left to determine whether humans are inherently good or evil.

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Other Resources for To Kill a Mockingbird

Order To Kill a Mockingbird Resources from Prestwick House

Resource Format
To Kill a Mockingbird Paperback Student Edition
To Kill a Mockingbird Teaching Unit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
To Kill a Mockingbird AP Teaching Unit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
To Kill a Mockingbird Activity Pack Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
To Kill a Mockingbird Response Journal Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
To Kill a Mockingbird Multiple Critical Perspectives Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set
To Kill a Mockingbird Complete Teacher's Kit Reproducible Downloadable 30-Book Set