Happy 50th Birthday, 'To Kill a Mockingbird'!: Why Kids Should Care

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird has been an American literary classic since the day it was released. The classic Oscar-winning movie Lee's book inspired blows away most, if not all, contemporary young adult films for in terms of story, adventure, importance, relevance and watch-ability. Who doesn't mentally conjur Gregory Peck's handsome and noble father upon hearing the word "Atticus"?

It's the kind of film you would never want remade -- not just because it can't be perfected, but because the result would probably star country singers and/or teen sensations, and Scout would be talking to us from her blog. No thank you.

I recommend watching the trailer of the celebratory 2010 documentary Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird, which features clips from the film and commentary from Tom Brokaw, James Patterson and Oprah Winfrey. Try to avoid getting goosebumps or tearing up.

But as much as we love To Kill a Mockingbird, what do tweens know about it? Do they think it's an eco-documentary? Do they think Atticus Finch is a breed of bird? That's where you can be a hero to your own kids. References to a rape notwithstanding, the movie is appropriate -- and often incorporated into school curriculum -- for middle schoolers.

But beyond enjoying a great film, kids need to know that good storytelling in the movies has been around for generations, and that the best ones don't require special effects, supernatural beings, 3D glasses, pop culture jokes, or even color. To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless gem they'll talk about for a long time, and -- if I'm any example -- remember for much longer. Happy Birthday.

Do you think To Kill a Mockingbird appeals to modern tweens? Chime in below!

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