I read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee before Christmas, as it a set reading text for a course I am doing. It was a glorious read – beautifully written, evocative, challenging, thought provoking – a thoroughly “good read”. I have seen the film adaptation many times but the book is better than the film which is saying a lot, as the film is awesome.
There is so much I could say about this book. But if you want to learn about empathy or compassion, read this book. Scout learns to climb into the skin of another and walk around “in their shoes”. If you want to learn how to be a parent, read this book. Atticus is a wise father and we can learn from his example.
I like Scout’s description of her father in the opening chapter: “Jem and I found our father satisfactory: he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment.” Atticus is a man who uses his words sparingly and when uttered, they are chewed over and heeded. He is no helicopter parent who involved himself in the minutae of his children’s lives. It is worth pondering what “courteous detachment” looks like. I remember hearing Margaret Throsby interview an Australian poet who was reminiscing her childhood and how her parents had raised her. She talked about their “benign neglect”. This phrase captured my attention. I am wondering if it is similar to the approach taken by Atticus.
Want to be a parent who raises children of empathy and compassion? Read this book. Encourage them to read it too when they reach an appropriate age. You are bound to have more than one or two discussions.