On its 60th anniversary, what have we learned from To Kill a Mockingbird?

Today marks the 60th anniversary of a widely beloved and fantastic book: To Kill a Mockingbird. This book, written by Harper Lee, has become a classic of modern American literature. For decades now, it has been a staple in high school programs and almost every student has had to read it at least once. 

The story is set in Monroeville, Alabama, where lawyer Atticus Finch lives with his children. Throughout the book, Atticus will teach them both directly and indirectly about justice, empathy, honor, integrity, and the importance of doing the right thing in a town deeply affected and ruled by racism.

Schools may be closed right now, but if you want to experience a book that will forever change your life, try getting ahead and reading this one. Because it’s more than just another book they force us to read. It transcends all classrooms and is full of valuable lessons that, even 60 years later, are more relevant than ever. These are only a few of them.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

© Penguin Books

This lesson is present throughout the entire book, but it’s most notorious when it comes to Boo Radley. Just like Boo, many people today are misjudged for the way they look, talk, or dress. But you’d be surprised what others can teach you if you get to know them before judging them.

The best act of bravery is doing the right thing

© Universal Pictures

The need to fit in can sometimes make us do things that we know are wrong. Atticus knew that defending a black man was something the entire town would be against, but he did it anyway—because defending an innocent man was the right thing to do. Doing what’s right, even when it is highly unpopular, is bravery at it’s finest and has the power to change the world.

The world is an unfair place, but we can fight to make it a fair one

Scout and Jem Finch had to learn how unfair the world can be from an early age. But they also learned from his father that we have the power to fight for justice. No matter how overwhelming the world situation may be, there’s always a way out if we’re willing to join the fight.

Be true to yourself

© Leo L. Fuchs/Universal Pictures/Photofest

Being true to your beliefs and your conscience is a moral responsibility we all have. You may not agree with the opinion of others, and that’s okay. But if you betray yourself because of what others think, then you’re left with nothing. As Atticus said, “before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority ride is a person’s conscience.” 

Sixty years after its release, we still remember To Kill a Mockingbird as a life-changing book. Harper Lee has gifted us pages full of characters, stories, and lessons that we keep with us even today. If you haven’t read this book yet, you’re definitely missing out.