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‘Mockingbird’ too graphic for eighth-graders

The Biloxi School District is receiving some criticisms over pulling “To Kill a Mockingbird” from the required reading list for eighth-grade English.

Reportedly, the decision was made because of sensitivity over the use of the N-word in Harper Lee’s 1960 novel, which won a Pulitzer Prize and was later turned into an Academy Award-winning movie. If that’s the reason, it’s a poor one.

Anyone who has ever read the book knows that Lee’s use of the racial epithet is not gratuitous. It accurately reflects the way most white Southerners talked at the time in which the story is cast. Reading historical works reflect the times and teach important lessons, vital to education.

Besides, the novel, rather than condoning racism, is a poignant rebuttal of racial prejudices and the injustices that such bigotry breeds.

All that said, the book’s subject matter — not just on race but also on rape — may be more mature than eighth graders are ready for. On that accord, pulling it from eight-grade reading has merit.

Every American student should read the book. If it waits until high school or even college, they may actually get more out of it.

— Greenwood Commonwealth