Understanding Mockingbird and Watchman in Today’s World

Posted by Laura Tavares on January 7, 2016

In January and February, Barnes & Noble Booksellers is partnering with Facing History and Ourselves to promote our resources for teaching To Kill A Mockingbird to educators across the United States. Facing History’s Senior Program Associate, Laura Tavares, reflects on why Mockingbird is more relevant today than at any time since it’s original publication at the dawn of the American Civil Rights Era.

Six months ago, Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman revealed a different side of the beloved Atticus Finch. Lovers of Lee’s classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, were left confused as he is rendered a segregationist who clashes with his daughter over his racist beliefs. My colleagues and I saw this as an opportunity to explore Mockingbird even further. Since the book’s release, we immersed ourselves in this text to develop resources that can inform the way you read and teach Mockingbird in your classroom. 

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Books, English Language Arts, Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, Reading, Racism

Best Winter Reads: Recommendations from the Facing History Library

Posted by Tracy O'Brien on December 30, 2015

Winter is a great time to slow down, indulge in eating hearty food and curl up with a book that can transport you to another world, all from the comfort of your couch. So go on an adventure this winter. Hit the library, stop by the independent bookstore on the corner, toss a few items in your AmazonSmile shopping cart (when you do, a portion of your purchase can go directly to Facing History), or start downloading to your e-reader. Hand-picked by Tracy O'Brien, Director of Facing History and Ourselves’ library, these titles are guaranteed to transport, challenge, and inspire readers of all ages.

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Books, Facing History Resources, Memoir, Facing History and Ourselves, Survivor Testimony, Reading

Why A More Complicated Atticus Could Be A New Learning Opportunity

Posted by Laura Tavares on July 15, 2015

Like so many literature lovers, I’d been eagerly anticipating yesterday's release of Go Set a Watchman. For nearly two years, I’ve been thinking about the world of Maycomb as I worked with colleagues to create Facing History and Ourselves’ resource Teaching Mockingbird. I couldn’t wait to read Watchman, which has been described as a first draft or “parent” of To Kill a Mockingbird, to learn more about how Harper Lee first imagined beloved characters like Atticus, Scout, and Jem, and to see how she depicts Maycomb in the 1950s.

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Books, English Language Arts, Reconstruction, News, History, Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

Waiting for Watchman

Posted by Dan Sigward on July 10, 2015

Facing History has eagerly awaited next week's release of Go Set a Watchman since its discovery was announced this past February. Today we were treated to a sneak preview with the release of the book's first chapter. As earlier media reports indicated, the book features an adult Scout returning to Maycomb, Alabama, to visit her father 20 years after the events of the original book. It is written in third person and therefore isn’t limited to Scout’s point of view.

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Books, English Language Arts, ELA

7 Summer Reads: Selections from the Facing History Library

Posted by Tracy O'Brien on May 28, 2015

Whether you’re on the beach or preparing your syllabus for fall, check out these nonfiction and fiction titles that have the Facing History and Ourselves Library staff excited for summer reading!

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Civil Rights Movement, Books, English Language Arts, Poetry, Armenian Genocide, Race and Membership, Holocaust, Memoir, Survivor Testimony, History, Reading

What Does It Mean “To Kill a Mockingbird”?

Posted by Adam Strom on April 16, 2015

There are phrases you hear so often that they begin to lose their meaning. The words become part of a series, like "bite the dust" or "have a blast." The title of Harper Lee's 1960 classic To Kill a Mockingbird is like that for me, despite its profound impact on the way I think about the world.

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Classrooms, Books, English Language Arts, Facing History Resources, Teaching Resources

How Can History of Lynching Help Us Understand Issues of Race and Justice in “To Kill a Mockingbird”?

Posted by Julia Rappaport on April 2, 2015

In a blog post up now on the New York Times Learning Network, Facing History and Ourselves Senior Program Associate Laura Tavares pairs an article about the recent report documenting the history of racial lynching in America with an excerpt of To Kill a Mockingbird

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Professional Development, Facing History Resources, Teaching, Race and Membership, Teaching Resources, History

Facing the Past: Lynching and American Civic Memory

Posted by Karen Murphy on February 19, 2015

Sam Hose. Thomas Moss. Elias Clayton. Keith Bowen. Jesse Thornton. William Little. Jeff Brown.
They are just seven names of thousands of black Americans murdered by lynching, many of which were included last week in a report from Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) that identifies victims of lynching between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and 1950. It's a list that could go on for pages and, yet, still to this day remains incomplete.

The history of lynching remains widely unknown today, especially among many white Americans.

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Reconstruction, News, Race and Membership, Teaching Resources, History

Questions We Hope Get Answered in Harper Lee’s "Go Set a Watchman"

Posted by Dan Sigward on February 12, 2015

Facing History's offices have been abuzz since Harper Lee's "new" novel was announced earlier this month.

This literary event—taking place 55 years after the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird and about six months after Facing History published Teaching Mockingbird, its study guide to the novel—comes at a time when we have been diving deep into the themes of Lee's classic novel, both as a staff and with educators around the world.

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Books, English Language Arts, Facing History Resources, Teaching, Teaching Resources, Civil Rights

New Documentary Explores "To Kill a Mockingbird"'s Enduring Appeal

Posted by Julia Rappaport on January 29, 2015

More than 55 years since its publication, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird still resonates. Filmmaker Sandra Jaffe grew up in Alabama, where the 1960 best-selling novel is set. In 2006, Jaffe set out to find out why the book remains so popular today.

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Classrooms, Civil Rights Movement, Film, Student Voices, Choosing to Participate, Facing History Resources, Identity, Civil Rights

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Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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