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How Do Real Historical Resources Help Us Understand Fictional Characters? To Kill a Mockingbird

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Language Arts And English +1 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

To explore this "essential question," the resources here offer different contexts for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. They can help visualize and comprehend the setting of the book and the social issues of the Depression era in the South. With that understanding, students may better apprehend the choices and values of the characters in the novel.

Supporting question: "What was it like to live in small-town Alabama during that time?"

To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the ficticious Maycomb, Alabama, which author Harper Lee modeled on her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Students may approach the images from the time period and place of the story (1930s) to consider how race and social class make a difference in how one answers that question.

Supporting question: "What important matters were in the news during that time?"

It's not a fact that Harper Lee based the trial in the novel on the Scottsboro boys, but it may have influenced her. Have students look for similarities and differences. What other events were going on? (e.g., Great Depression).

Have students explain how these resources help understand the characters in the novel.