—(Scout speaking in To Kill a Mockingbird)
Along with the community of Hopkinsville, KY our community college (Hopkinsville Community College) has spent the last month with the “Mockingbird.” We have read, we have discussed, we have shared, and we have enjoyed various quotes from the book. As with all readers, we each have our own lens to interpret the text. The quote comparing reading and breathing is one of my favorite.
Scout has a hard time with Miss Caroline, the new school teacher. Miss Caroline, has been trained in the “Dewey Decimal” system of teaching. Jem tries to explain that Miss Caroline is a new teacher, and she learned the Dewey Decimal system of teaching. Jem confuses the ideas of John Dewey’s educational reform with the cataloging system of the library. Miss Caroline has very strict ideas about how one should learn to read, and poor Scout does not know she and her father are going about reading all wrong. Scout does not remember formally learning to read or when the black marks on the page began to make words, but somewhere along the way of sitting in Atticus’ lap when he was reading, she began to read. Miss Caroline tells Scout not to read with her father anymore because he is teaching her all wrong. A happy compromise allows Scout to continue to read at home in exchange that she will continue to go to school.
Reading is a part of Scout’s, Jem’s, and Atticus’s life. Scout cannot envision a life without reading. Scout is lucky enough to come from a home filled with print. As part of our charge of our Common Read project and our Three Book Challenge, we hope to infuse our students’ homes with print. In other words, we want our students to view reading as just another necessary element in their life…..like breathing.