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To Kill a Mockingbird Read-alikes

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October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Here’s Bella Cavicchi from Massachusetts.

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Asking an avid reader to name their favorite novel usually doesn’t end with a single answer. When I must list my favorite book, though, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of the first stories that comes to mind. I love everything about the novel, from Atticus’ words of wisdom to the mysterious background of Boo Radley, and it’s the classic I happily recommend the most.

Once you finish TKM, however, you may wonder what book to turn to next. Here’s a handy-dandy guide of To Kill a Mockingbird read-alikes, novels that share a similar element or theme with Harper Lee’s book. Whether you just recently shared in Scout’s story or haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird for years, I encourage you to give it a second look – and with one of these new novels in hand!

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A very prominent theme of To Kill a Mockingbird is racism, exploring how it can affect an entire community, not just one person. These next three books also tackle race, but from different positions and times in history. Revolution, by Deborah Wiles, is the second book in a trilogy about events of the sixties, but it can easily be read on its own. Wiles takes a thorough look at the events of Freedom Summer in 1964, and she includes a variety of media {such as photos, song lyrics, and speeches} for a fascinating reading experience.

The next book, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor is another well-known classic, also set in the south during the 1930’s. In this novel, however, readers are given the perspective of a young black girl, which could lead to an interesting discussion about the Cassie, Roll of Thunder‘s main character, and Scout.

Another great book that writes about race in an engaging and thought-provoking way is The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had by Kristin Levine. Even just one look at the synopsis will surely let you see the similarities between Levine’s historical fiction and To Kill a Mockingbird, but it’s set a couple of decades earlier, in 1917. The main characters Dit and Emma may be an odd pair, but that’s what usually makes for the best stories!

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Maycomb is one of the most well known small towns in literature and for good reason. The community certainly isn’t without its problems, but Harper Lee captures the close-knit life perfectly with the events of the story. Another book that features a small town is Way Down Deep by Ruth White. Set in the mid 1940’s, the novel has a timeless quality that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

Want another small town story? I recommend any of Richard Peck’s books; the one I remember reading most recently is A Long Way from Chicago. His trademark writing style – quirky and funny – translates well to a story set in a small community, and in this novel, you’ll find it’s easy to escape into the adventures of Joey, Mary Alice, and their hilarious, unusual grandma.

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On a similar note, a town would be nothing without the people living within it! These two books have casts of characters that remind me of the memorable Maycomb community. To Kill a Mockingbird‘s protagonist, young Scout, is spirited, thoughtful, and confident; I can’t think of a better modern parallel that Moses LoBeau, or Mo, from Three Times Lucky by Shelia Turnage. Set in another small southern town, this fun mystery makes me think that Mo and Scout would be great friends, as would Mo’s father figure, the Colonel, and Atticus!

On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s, by Barbara O’Connor, takes a different route. While there is no set main character, you’ll learn the background of the entire town by the time you’re done reading. Like many of the supporting characters in To Kill a Mockingbird, they each have something interesting to add! They’re also all endearing, so believe me, you’ll have some trouble picking a favorite.

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Finally, maybe you’re just in the mood to read about other To Kill a Mockingbird fans {and why wouldn’t you be?}. These two books celebrate the beauty of Harper Lee’s words, and if you haven’t read the classic, these novels will be motivation enough. Beside its awesome title, Paul Acampora’s I Kill the Mockingbird encourages a whole new generation of readers. Following three kids’ mission to get others to read TKM, it’s a hilarious read that both book lovers and irregular readers will appreciate!

Another To Kill a Mockingbird themed novel is Karen Harrington’s Sure Signs of Crazy. It is not the central theme of the book, but Sarah’s letters to Atticus will make you smile. The book will touch you in more ways than one, as Harrington takes on mental illness and an absent parent; basically it’s a coming of age novel done right.

Thank you so much to The Hub for this opportunity! I had a blast writing about my favorite classic, and I hope I’ve persuaded you to check out some of these excellent novels too.

Bella Cavicchi is a high school student and an avid reader and blogger. When she’s not stuck with her nose in a book or with a pencil in hand, she can be found stage managing school drama productions, shopping at J.Crew, or writing yet another to-do list. Please visit her at chicandpetite.wordpress.com.