Thursday, October 23, 2008

SoFAB creates To Kill A Mockingbird lesson plan

Perhaps the highlight of participating in The Big Read project is the opportunity to create a lesson plan for teachers regarding food in To Kill A Mockingbird.

The lesson plan is available at no charge for download. Go to www.thebigreadnola.com.

Food is an important element in Mockingbird. There are more than 50 types of food items mentioned and many are considered to be quintessential Southern fare – fried chicken, peach pickles, Lane cake, pickled pig’s knuckles, and more. The food mentioned sets the tone for the time and place of the story.

More importantly, the book features food- or eating-related scenes in which important points are illustrated or the plot is advanced towards its conclusion. For example, at the front of the book, Jem invites Walter Cunningham home for lunch and he proceeds to drip molasses all over his meal. Scout makes a rude comment and is hauled out to the kitchen where Calpurnia gives her a lesson in manners and hospitality. It’s a great scene that illustrates one of the principle tenets of the book – you never know someone until you walk in their shoes.

In another example, the townspeople show their respect for Atticus by placing food on the Finch back doorstep as tribute for his representing Tom Robinson, even though Robinson could not pay. It’s an emotional scene that illustrates the racial atmosphere at the time, as well as the toughness of the Great Depression.

The lesson plan provides ways for educators to teach and celebrate the book from a new angle – food. It provides teachers with quiz questions, essay questions, lecture topics, puzzles, and more.

The lesson plan was designed by New Orleans local Virginia Howard who performed her services at no charge. She did a wonderful job.

If you have any questions, or suggestions to make the lesson plan better, let us know. We’d be happy to keep adding as we plan to keep the Mockingbird materials on the site for as long as they are needed.