- Meg Raymond
To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my all-time favorites too. I do believe that it is one of those books in a class by itself - there really isn't anything else that comes close to it! Having said that, I do have a couple of suggestions for you. Some of these titles deal with race relations; others deal with growing up in the South. Hopefully you will find something here that you will enjoy.
Black and White by Paul Volponi
Three teenage friends confront racism during the summer of 1955 in a small Southern town.
Burning Up by Caroline B. Cooney
When a girl from an inner-city church is murdered, Macey Claire discovers prejudice in her grandparents and in her wealthy Connecticut community.
Clover by Dori Sanders
Interracial marriage in the rural south today is seen through the eyes of a young black girl who is being raised by a white step-mom, despite protests from relatives.
The Legend of Buddy Bush by Shelia P. Moses
In 1947, Pattie Mae is sustained by her dreams of escaping Rich Square, NC, and moving to Harlem when her uncle Buddy is arrested for attempted rape.
Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe
A 16-year-old finds himself at odds with his grandfather over issues surrounding the kidnapping and murder of a young African American from Chicago.This book is based on the true story of the Emmett Till case.
The Road to Memphis by Mildred Taylor
Sadistically teased by two white boys in 1940's Mississippi, a black youth severely injures one of them with tire iron and enlists Cassie's help in trying to flee the state.
The Watson's Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
The reality of racism hits the fun-loving Watson family when they travel to Birmingham to visit relatives during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
Youth Services Librarian
Central Rappahannock Regional Library
Posted - 04/02/2008 : 12:21:36 PM
"To Kill a Mockingbird" has been studied and dissected and de-constructed, as well as just enjoyed by millions of readers, but it has never been duplicated. There are many wonderful books that contain one or more of the Big Themes in "To Kill a Mockingbird", such as racial injustice (as well as class and gender issues), tolerance, coming of age and single parenthood. The southern setting is also a major character in the story.
The following books have one or more of the above elements, or just seem like a "good match". I know you will find something you will like from this list.
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
Written in a mesmerizing voice that mingles the languid rhythms of country music with raw, unsparing descriptions of emotional and physical violence, this moving novel marks the emergence of an extraordinarily gifted writer. (synopsis)
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
The one thing you can depend on in Cold Sassy, Georgia, is that word gets around - fast. When Grandpa E. Rucker Blakeslee announces one July morning in 1906 that he's aiming to marry the young and freckledy milliner, Miss Love Simpson - a bare three weeks after Granny Blakeslee has gone to her reward - the news is served up all over town with that afternoon's dinner. (from the publisher)
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
A high school freshman discovers the devastating consequences of refusing to join in the school's annual fund raising drive and arousing the wrath of the school bullies. (synopsis)
The Watsons go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
Humor and drama light up history as the Weird Watsons, an African-American family from Flint, Michigan, seek to rehabilitate Byron, who is thirteen and an "official juvenile delinquent," by taking him "down South." (Children's Literature)
The Summer We Got Saved by Pat Cunningham Devoto
Told from three points of view, this thought-provoking story takes place in Alabama and Tennessee during the early 1960s...(T)hree lives are dramatically changed by the events of one summer. (from School Library
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book. (from Kirkus Reviews)
Peace Like a River by Lief Enger
A stunning debut novel, one that sneaks up on you like a whisper and warms you like a quilt in a North Dakota Winter, a novel about faith, miracles and family that is ultimately, miraculous. (from Publishers
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
What do you tell an innocent youth who was at the wrong place at the wrong time and now faces death in the electric chair? What do you say to restore his self-esteem when his lawyer has publicly described him as a dumb animal? What do you tell a youth humiliated by a lifetime of racism so that he can face death with dignity? (from Library Journal)
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
The appealing, eponymous, 11-year-old orphan heroine of this Southern-focused debut survives appalling situations until she finds safe harbor in a good foster home. (from Publishers Weekly)
What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges
Just about everything in Endora, Iowa (pop. 1,091 and dwindling) is eating Gilbert Grape, a twenty-four-year-old grocery clerk who dreams only of leaving. (from the publisher)
About a Boy by Nick Hornby
Will is thirty-six and doesn't really want children. Why does it bother people that he lives so happily alone in a fashionable, Lego-free flat, with massive speakers and a mammoth record collection, hardwood floors, and an expensive cream-colored rug that no kid has ever thrown up on?
(from the publisher)
The Giver by Lois Lowery
Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community. (synopsis)
Wolf Whistle by Lewis Nordan
In (this book)...Nordan unleashes the hellhounds of his prodigious imagination on one of the most notorious racial killings of the century, the Emmett Till murder. (from the publisher)
A Boy's Life by Robert McCammon
Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson -- a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. (synopsis)
A Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
(T)welve-year-old Frankie, who is utterly, hopelessly bored with life until she hears about her older brother's wedding...takes on an overly active role in the wedding, hoping even to go, uninvited, on the honeymoon, so deep is her desire to be the member of something larger, more accepting than herself. (synopsis)
Prince Edward by Dennis McFarland
Reacting to the Supreme Court's earlier landmark decision in Brown v.
Board of Education in the summer of 1959, the white citizens of Prince Edward County, VA, vote to close their public schools rather than integrate. Their solution is to create a new system of private schools before the fall semester, by any means necessary. (from Library Journal)
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
(T)ells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. (from the publisher)
Posted - 05/21/2008 : 1:13:37 PM
There are so many things to love about this book: the historical setting, the relationship between Atticus, the strong, loving father and his children, the search for racial justice, coming of age, the drama of the courtroom, and simply the evocation of a sleepy little southern town. I can’t think of any book that touches all of these themes so well as To Kill a Mockingbird, but here are several that share many of them. Some of these books are written for all ages and can be found in the children’s fiction section.
Sounder by William H. Armstrong
Angry and humiliated when his sharecropper father is jailed for stealing food for his family, a young black boy with the help of the devoted dog Sounder grows in courage and understanding by learning to read.
Wish You Well by David Baldacci.
This story is set in 1940. A tragedy sends Lou, her little brother, Oz, and their invalid mother, from New York City to the mountains of Southwest Virginia to live with their great-grandmother. The lives of Lou and Oz are forever changed. The portraits of the land and its people are described with detail, and the story flows through swells of prejudice, innocence, faith, and the question of whether one can ever really wish another well. The climactic courtroom battle will not only decide the fates of Lou, Oz, and their mother, but also all who have been touched by them.
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
The unforgettable characters of Cold Sassy, Georgia, are presented in this heartwarming story of modern times coming to a small Southern town.
Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress
During a hot, restless summer in Alabama a woman with six children and an abusive husband looks for salvation in Hollywood.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.
When Davy Land kills two marauders who have come to harm the family, the town is divided between those who see him as a hero and those who see him as a cold-blooded murderer. On the morning of the trial, he escapes and his family sets out in search of him.
A Lesson before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines.
Set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s, A Lesson before Dying is a moving novel of one man condemned to die for a crime he did not commit and a young man who visits him in his cell. In the end, the two men forge a bond as they both come to understand the simple heroism of resisting--and defying--the expected.
A Time to Kill by John Grisham.
This early work by John Grisham is a riveting story of retribution and justice -- at last it's available in a Doubleday hardcover edition. In this searing courtroom drama, best-selling author John Grisham probes the savage depths of racial violence...as he delivers a compelling tale of uncertain justice in a small southern town...Clanton, Mississippi. The life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young man. The mostly white town reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime. Until her black father acquires an assault rifle -- and takes justice into his own outraged hands. For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save his client's life...and then his own.
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.
On San Piedro, an island of rugged, spectacular beauty in the Puget Sound, a Japanese-American fisherman stands trial, charged with cold- blooded murder. It is 1954 and the shadow of World War II, with its brutality abroad and the internment of Japanese-Americans hangs over the courtroom. This is one of my favorite books. It combines a great love story and recent history with courtroom drama.
Jill McCorkle's Ferris Beach [Two girls from different backgrounds grow up together, sharing secrets until a fateful Fourth of July when they discover that life's little surprises can't always be ignored and that the hard parts don't get better, just easier to live with...]
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton.
Paton's deeply moving story of Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom, set against the backdrop of a land and people riven by racial inequality and injustice, remains the most famous and important novel in South Africa's history. This classic has twice been made into films and was the inspiration for the Kurt Weill musical Lost in the Stars.
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
A young boy living in the Florida backwoods is forced to decide the fate of a fawn he has lovingly raised as a pet. This is an old classic that several generations of readers have loved. It was also made into a film that starred Gregory Peck as the father.
Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred D. Taylor
Four black children living in rural Mississippi during the depression, experience racial prejudice and hard times, but, in order to survive, learn self-respect and pride from their parents.