If you are a middle or high school student, chances are you had to read To Kill A Mockingbird this summer. If you are a parent, chances are that you also read this book around the same age as your children are now. This 1960 novel has been a literary touchstone for the past 55 years. Why? Should it retain its lauded place in the American canon? Come tackle this novel like you never have before at our teach-in event here at the Museum on Sunday, September 20 from 2 – 4 pm, co-hosted by Facing History and Ourselves. You’ll hear our fascinating team of panelists discuss the literary, legal, and historical themes of the book, offering insights that may challenge your own reading of the novel. You’ll also be treated to staged readings from the novel by veteran actress, playwright, dramaturge, and producer Sandra A. Daley-Sharif, winner of the 2015 Josephine Abady Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women.
We bet after the panel you’ll be itching to share your own thoughts. And that’s just what we want! The second half of our event is dedicated to breakout discussion sessions, each featuring a panelist guest. Who are these amazing panelists, you might be asking? Here’s a picture and short biography of each expert who will discuss the book at the event:
Paul Acampora is the author of the recent middle-grade novel I Kill the Mockingbird, and other novels and short stories for teens, middle grade, and elementary school readers. He is a former kindergarten teacher, a current college administrator, a member of the Eastern PA Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), and a frequent contributor to the Scholastic Storyworks magazine. You can find out more about him and his work on his website, including some awesome pictures of him dressed as a robot.
Claire Needell is an author and former middle school teacher whose education-focused contributions to The New York Times opinion pages recently included a post to a “Room for Debate,” forum called, “How Should Schools Deal With the New Atticus Finch?” Ms. Needell has written a collection of YA short fiction, Nothing Real and the forthcoming YA novel, The Word for Yes. Check her out on her website.
Dennis D. Parker is Director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s Racial Justice Program, which advocates for racial justice using litigation, public education, community organizing, and legislation primarily in the areas of education, racial profiling, and other discrimination in the criminal justice system and economic justice. Prior jobs include Chief of the New York State Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau, staff attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and staff attorney in the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division in Brooklyn. He publishes and lectures extensively about civil rights and is an adjunct professor at New York Law School. He graduated from Middlebury College and Harvard Law School. Find out more about him, and read some of his blog posts on the ACLU website.
Need some inspiration, or want to join the conversation even before the event? Head over to our Goodreads page to chat with other readers. For some historical background, check out our previous posts about the Great Depression, Eugenics, and the Jim Crow South. For tons of incredible resources, check out Teaching Mockingbird from Facing History and Ourselves, which inspired Sunday’s event. And don’t forget to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org!