To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those books I’ve probably read 10 times. I love everything about the story, from Scout’s childhood to the trial to Atticus as a father and a lawyer to the mystery of Boo Radley. I love the message inherent in the story. I love the history in its words. I love that my boys enjoyed reading it as much as I do. And as I read back through it to create these activities for your kiddos, I cried more times than I can tell you–for the sweetness of childhood, good parenting, and basic human rights.
You really can’t ask more from a single book.
There’s a lot to digest in roughly 280 pages, though, and some grownup stuff that your kids might need help understanding or dealing with. Scout and Jem’s childhood antics, their fascination with the local recluse, Boo Radley, and the trial that shakes their small southern town (defended by their own father), can be pretty heavy stuff. But there is such an incredible array of very real characters in the novel, so many opportunities to laugh, and maybe even more opportunities to study ourselves and human nature, that this one is a can’t-miss.
So, assign To Kill a Mockingbird for personal reading if you want to, but if you read it aloud together, you get to relive the story, too. Or (and what is wrong with you?!) for the first time.
I’m kidding. There’s nothing wrong with you. You just seriously need to read this book.
You want your kids to glean as much from this story as possible. There’s a lot of history, sociology, and human wickedness and kindness in the novel. So let’s get your kiddos reading To Kill a Mockingbird like pros. Because we want them to get it.
To Kill a Mockingbird Activities
Your child by no means has to do every one of these activities in order to closely read To Kill a Mockingbird, but I suggest picking several from each category.
- Write an entry about a time when you broke a bone or had another injury or concern that caused you to fear you wouldn’t be able to do your favorite thing anymore
- Write the story of Dill’s dad as you imagine it
- Pretend you’re Dill and write about the Radley Place
- Pretend you live in Scout’s neighborhood and write about seeing or hearing Boo Radley out at night
- Pretend you are Scout and write an entry about the crime of being able to read before attending school
- Write about the first day of first grade from Miss Caroline’s point of view
- Pretend you’re Scout and write about finding the first gift of gum in the knothole of the live oak tree
- Tell the story of Scout rolling into the Radley’s yard in the tire from Boo Radley’s point of view
- Pretend you’re Scout. Go home and write about the things Miss Maudie said about Boo Radley and his father on the porch. What do you think she meant by them?
- Tell the story of Jem trying to deliver the letter to Boo Radley from Atticus’s point of view
- Pretend you’re Jem and write about going to get your pants from the Radley’s fence
- Pretend you’re Jem and write about Nathan Radley plugging the knothole with cement and why it made you sad
- Pretend you’re Scout and write about seeing snow for the first time
- Pretend you’re Miss Maudie and write about losing your house to the fire
- Write about Christmas at Finch’s Landing from Jem’s point of view
- Pretend you’re Scout and write about the confusion of first hearing about Atticus’s defense of Tom Robinson
- Pretend you’re Jem and write about finding out about Atticus’s skill with a gun
- Write about Jem’s attack on Mrs. Dubose’s camellias from Atticus’s point of view
- Pretend you’re Jem and write about Mrs. Dubose being the bravest person Atticus ever knew
- Pretend you’re Calpurnia and write about taking Scout and Jem to church
- Pretend you’re Dill and write about your home life and running away to Maycomb
- Write about the jailhouse confrontation from Jem’s or Atticus’s point of view
- Pretend you’re Scout and write your impressions of the courthouse and the trial
- Pretend you’re Jem and write about your reaction to the trial’s verdict
- Pretend you’re Scout and write about how there’s only one kind of folks, not four as Jem suggests
- Pretend you’re Miss Maudie and write about defending Atticus at the Missionary Society lunch
- Pretend you’re Calpurnia and write about learning of Tom’s death
- Pretend you’re Scout and write about the walk home from the school pageant and the attack
- Write about the attack from Boo’s point of view
- Pretend you’re Atticus and write about learning of the attack
Write a Letter
- Write a letter from a member of Scout’s family to Simon Finch explaining why a daughter stayed at Finch’s Landing rather than a son
- From Jem to Scout explaining why she shouldn’t press Dill about his father
- From Dill to Jem and Scout telling them why the Radley Place fascinated him so much
- From Jem to Scout and Dill telling them what it was like to touch the Radley house
- From Miss Caroline to Atticus telling him that he doesn’t know how to teach and to stop teaching Scout at home
- From Walter Cunningham to the Finches, thanking them for lunch on the first day of school
- From Scout to Calpurnia telling her why it’s the cook’s fault she got in trouble at school
- From Scout to Jem and Dill telling them how she feels about being excluded from their games
- From Scout to Miss Maudie telling her why Miss Maudie isn’t (or shouldn’t be) going to hell
- Write the letter from Dill and Jem to Boo Radley asking him to come out
- From Atticus to Dill and Jem telling them why they should leave Boo Radley alone
- From Jem to Scout explaining who carved the soap dolls
- From Scout to Boo Radley thanking him for giving her the blanket
- From Atticus to Scout telling her all the things he loves about her and why she should ignore Aunt Alexandra’s admonishments to act like a lady
- From Uncle Jack to Aunt Alexandra telling her about the things Francis said to Scout
- From Scout to Uncle Jack thanking him for not telling Atticus the real reason she hit Francis
- From Jem to Atticus asking him to play in the Methodist-Baptist football game and explaining why it’s important to Jem
- From Scout to Atticus telling him why his behavior toward Mrs. Dubose makes him the bravest man who ever lived
- From Jem to Mrs. Dubose telling her why he’s not sorry he tore up her camellias
- From Scout to Calpurnia telling her about the ‘girl skills’ she learned by watching Cal in the kitchen
- From Jem and Scout to Calpurnia thanking her for taking them to her church and telling her what they each liked about it
- From Atticus to Aunt Alexandra telling her why he’s raised his children the way he has and why he doesn’t want them to change
- From Jem to Dill explaining why he told Atticus Dill was there when they found him under the bed
- From Aunt Alexandra to Atticus telling him why he shouldn’t talk about townsfolk not liking black people in front of black people
- From Dill to Scout explaining why it wasn’t right for Mr. Gilmer to talk to Tom Robinson the way he did
- From Atticus to Scout and Jem explaining what he meant by ‘This is their home…We’ve made it this way for them, they might as well learn to cope with it
- From Scout to Aunt Alexandra telling her the reasons it should be okay for her to play with Walter Cunningham
- From Scout to Miss Gates asking her why she believed it was wrong to persecute Jews but okay to teach black people ‘a lesson’
- From Scout and Dill to Boo Radley thanking him for saving their lives
- From Heck Tate to Atticus explaining exactly why he insisted that Bob Ewell fell on his knife
- The effects of the Great Depression on the southeastern states
- The rise of automobiles in the 1930s and 40s
- The life and works of Oliver Optic, Victor Appleton, and/or Edgar Rice Burroughs
- Ford Flivver
- State industrial schools
- The Dewey Decimal System
- First and second Battles of the Marne
- The Rosetta Stone
- General John Bell Hood
- The Missouri Compromise
- General Braxton Bragg
- The Bill of Rights
- Adolph Hitler and the Holocaust
- The National Recovery Act
- Explain what you think Atticus meant in chapter 1 when he said that ‘there were other ways of making people into ghosts’
- The description of Boo Radley that Jem and Scout give to Dill is exaggerated and scary. Discuss why the children have this image of Boo and where they might have gotten it
- Think about some of your habits, likes, and dislikes. How different are they from those of your friends and/or neighbors? Do you think the differences give you the right to judge each other? How much privacy is enough? Is there ever a time when a person’s habits should cause enough concern for your interference? Explain your argument and persuade your reader to agree with you.
- Considering the era and the stereotypes of the time, explain why Atticus would have gotten trouble from the town for defending Tom Robinson. Using text from the book, show how Atticus acts as the voice of reason for the town throughout the trial.
- In Chapter 11, Atticus says, “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” Explain what he means and give example from the text that show Atticus living by this rule
- The prejudice of the time period comes through in the insults neighbors and townspeople hurl at the Finches after Tom Robinson becomes Atticus’s client. Discuss how those prejudices have or have not changed in the nearly 100 years since the setting of the book.
- Atticus also says, “I do my best to love everybody… I’m hard put, sometimes–baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.” Do you believe that statement to be true? Explain why or why not.
- Scout mentions several times in the book the religious belief that women are impure. Is there scripture that creates this belief? Write about it and discuss whether or not you believe it to be true. You might also discuss how the belief has affected society and the treatment of women as a group.
- Atticus speaks often about ‘standing in another person’s shoes’ in order to understand them and act accordingly. Explain what he means by this and how it might help you know how to behave toward others.
- Discuss what Mr. Dolphus Raymond meant by ‘the hell white people give colored folks’ and whether or not the problem persists today
- Do some research about actual trials in which convictions occurred that may have been due to skin color rather than facts and compare them to Tom Robinson’s trial
- Miss Maudie explains to Aunt Alexandra that there are people in the town who are paying Atticus the highest tribute they can pay a man by trusting him to do what is right (Chapter 24). She then goes to explain that those people ‘say that fair play is not marked White Only… a fair trial is for everybody…’ which shows her to have less prejudice than many of the townsfolk. She goes on to say, “…the handful of people with enough humility to think, when they look at a Negro, there but for the Lord’s kindness am I.” Knowing what we know today, do you believe the final statement negates the goodness of the first statement? Discuss prejudice present in To Kill a Mockingbird even while non-prejudice points are being made. Use direct quotes from the text.
- Discuss why thrusting Boo Radley into the limelight would be the same kind of sin it would be to kill a mockingbird
- Draw the Radley Place
- Construct a tree house (even if it’s just a miniature cardboard model)
- Make a Boo Radley Knothole Tree
- Paint or chalk pastel a summer twilight view from the front porch of Miss Maudie Atkinson
- Make a homemade fishing pole
- Make a snowman or a snowman craft
- Paint a bouquet of azaleas
- Draw the cartoon of Atticus in the Montgomery Advertiser (chapter 12)
- Make a paper flower garden that resembles Miss Maudie’s yard
- Draw the Maycomb County Courthouse
- Paint a portrait of Boo Radley
- Make your own Halloween Costumes
- Pecans or pecan pie
- Cake. Any cake. Make it from scratch. One big one and 3 little ones.
- Peach pickles
- Have a picnic of biscuits with syrup and cold chicken
- Find Alabama on a map of the United States. Using clues from the text, guess where Maycomb might have been located.
- Find Meridian, Mississippi on a map
- Create a family tree and see how far back you can trace your ancestry
- Read Dracula
- Create a play based on the Finches’ game about Boo Radley
- Create a newspaper that headlines the events of the novel
Have you started reading yet?