Cynthia's Thoughts on the To Kill a Mockingbird Ban

After hearing about To Kill a Mockingbird being banned at a Toronto-area high school’s reading list because a parent didn’t like the use of the “n” word in the book, I realized how lucky I was.  Throughout middle school and high school, we read many books which dealt with sensitive topics or were at least “borderline” inappropriate for teenager to some parents.  Yet, we read them.  Never did we hear a peep about parents complaining, either.  Maybe things were different in the 1990s – parents just weren’t as protective of their kids when it comes to what they can and cannot read.

One book which would likely receive complaints from parents these days is Timothy Findley’s The Wars, which takes a good hard look at a young Canadian soldier’s involvement in World War One.  There is a very disturbing scene towards the end of the book, something that many parents would definitely not want their kids to be exposed to, especially at a girls’ school.  Yet, we read it.  It’s important for young people to be exposed to things, even if it makes one uncomfortable.  In many cases, it helps us learn WHY it’s inappropriate.

To Kill a Mockingbird isn’t To Kill a Mockingbird without the “n” word – it just wouldn’t work.  Also, the book isn’t just about racism – it also takes a look the treatment of those who were in the “fringes” of society (e.g. the Ewells and Boo Radley). Perhaps the parents didn’t read the book at all.  Anyway, it’s school, and students need to be exposed to all sorts of literature. including books which are “sensitive” or “heavy.”  I read Timothy Findley’s The Wars in Grade 12.  It is certainly NOT Pride and Prejudice.  In fact, the very disturbing scene towards the end was not exactly “appropriate” for 17 year old girls.  But if we are to ban books that are even the slightest bit “inappropriate,” then there’ll be very little to read.  After all, even kids’ books like Green Eggs and Ham might be seen as inappropriate for some cultures. 

We have to stop pulling books out because parents don’t like it.  Regardless of what the topic is, people, especially children, learn from it.  We all need a dosage of real life from time to time. We are already turning into an anti-intellectual society and banning books, especially ones which have impacted society, just makes it worse.


  1. The past is the past, banning a book can’t change the injustices of any society. Our children need to know what happened when the “n” was in regular use to understand why it shouldn’t be used now otherwise there’s no context for the cause.

    Only in Canada can one person’s outrage over something they find offensive lead to the banning of a book. Ridiculous!