“To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of the most influential American novels of the mid-twentieth century. It dives into the nuances of Southern culture while also following the adventures of the relatable protagonist, Scout Finch. It’s a staple on high school reading lists, and the values and lessons the novel espouses follow students throughout their formative years and beyond.
If you’re looking for effective ways to introduce “To Kill a Mockingbird” before your students start reading, we’ve got the top twenty resources for you!
1. “To Kill a Mockingbird” Mini Research Project
With this PowerPoint, you can introduce To Kill a Mockingbird pre-reading research activities. They’re sure to get students up to speed on the life and times of the Finch family before they jump straight into the reading. Then, let students help lead the lessons on the topics, events, and people that they have researched.
Learn More: Mr. Carrell’s Kennedy Website
2. Look at Race and Prejudice with “Project Implicit”
This tool is based on the implicit bias that lives within each of us. It is centered around a bias test that will present an engaging, introduction/pre-reading activity for To Kill a Mockingbird. Students will take the bias test, and then use the provided discussion questions to work through central themes and ideas together.
Learn More: Project Implicit
3. Historical Context Activity: “Scottsboro” by PBS
Before jumping into the novel, take some time to learn about the historical and social context of the novel with this pre-reading activity. It goes through major key issues that impact the plot and themes in the novel. It also features a bunch of resources to learn about these contexts from top-notch sources, including current event resources.
Learn More: PBS
4. Chapter By Chapter Questions
With this guide, you will be able to prompt students to perform an in-depth analysis of each chapter of the novel. The questions range from informational text analysis to character analysis, and from literary elements to abstract ideas that are represented with symbols throughout the novel.
Learn More: Manatee Schools
5. Reflection and Literary Analysis Essay
This assignment encourages students to carefully look at the key details and literary symbols throughout the novel. It’s also a great assessment option because you can have students write about the novel before they’ve started reading, as a while-reading activity, and after they’ve finished the novel.
Learn More: Bremerton Schools
6. Chapter-by-Chapter Activity: Post-it Note Essay Questions
This page features a whole list of essay analysis questions that students are encouraged to answer quickly and efficiently. They can use post-it notes to generate ideas, organize their thoughts, and offer a complete answer with help from the post-its, which serve as a graphic organizer to plan their writing.
Learn More: Mr. Burklund’s Webpage
7. Banned Books: Should “To Kill a Mockingbird” Be Banned?
You can use this article as a jumping-off point to discuss the controversial question, “Should this book be banned?” It explores many different reasons for and against the decision so you can use it to pose higher-order thinking questions for your students.
Learn More: Marshall
8. Class Discussion and Critical Thinking Questions
This is a great list of questions that you can use as bell ringers before you start reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” in earnest. These student materials are also great for facilitating a mini-unit that will prepare your students for a meaningful reading experience.
Learn More: Thirteen
9. Mock Trial Activity
The iconic trial scene in the novel is one of the most famous in American historical pop culture. It shows the importance of the justice system, and you can experience the trial in the classroom. Set up a mock trial to teach the format and importance of the trial system before you start reading.
Learn More: Social Education
10. Video: “To Kill a Mockingbird” Pre-Reading Debate Questions
Here’s an awesome way to kick off a Socratic seminar; use a video. The questions are all ready to go, so you simply have to press play and let the classroom discussion unwind. It’s also part of a larger video series that includes while-reading activities, discussion prompts, and comprehension check-ins.
Learn More: Mrs M teaches English
11. Pre-Reading Vocabulary Puzzle
This vocabulary assignment worksheet features fifty vocab words that students should know as a To Kill a Mockingbird pre-reading activity. It’s a great option for a homework activity because students can use their dictionaries to learn these words individually.
Learn More: Teachers Pay Teachers
12. Watch the Movie Version Before Jumping into the Book
It didn’t take long for Hollywood to turn this popular novel into a movie. The movie is pretty true to the book, which makes it a great way to introduce the major plot points and characters before delving into higher-order questions.
Learn More: IMDb
13. “To Kill a Mockingbird” Activity Bundle
This activity pack includes several printable resources and lesson plans that will help you teach To Kill a Mockingbird from start to finish. It features resources to make the literature analysis understandable and engaging for 9th and 10th-grade students. It’s a great jumping point for your lesson planning, and already has most of what you need!
Learn More: Teach Novels
14. Introduce the Novel’s Symbols with a Slideshow
This ready-to-go slideshow is a fun pre-reading activity that looks at some popular visual symbols from students’ daily lives. This pre-made digital activity can help students understand the concept of symbolism before they dive into the novel; it sets them up to have meaningful and informed discussions about the book.
Learn More: Visual Symbols Challenge
15. Video: Why is “To Kill a Mockingbird” So Famous?
Here’s a video that explores the publishing scene in the 1960s, when To Kill a Mockingbird was first published. It goes through many of the historical factors that impacted the popularity of the novel, and it shows how changes in publishing also change the literature we admire.
Learn More: Vox
16. Carousel Discussion Activity
This is a discussion activity that will get kids moving around and interacting together. It is built around stations around the classroom or hallway and encourages students to talk to their partners about the deeper themes and developments in the novel. Then, a class-wide sharing session ties all the smaller discussions together.
Learn More: Teachers Pay Teachers
17. “To Kill a Mockingbird” Pre-Reading Worksheet Bundle
This is a whole pack of worksheets and guided note-taking sheets that will help students learn and remember all that they need to know before jumping into the novel. It looks at some of the historical and inspirational events that shaped the novel, as well as some major themes to look out for when they read.
Learn More: Prestwick House
18. Engaging Pre-Reading Interactive Activity
This resource features interactive notes and an in-depth study guide that teaches students about the important prior knowledge they’ll need before they read the novel. It also includes formative assessment tools so that teachers can be sure that students have mastered the material before moving on.
Learn More: Study.com
19. Explore Ideas of Right and Wrong
As an introduction activity, go over this reflection exercise that explores ideas of right and wrong. These ideas are critical to the messages about life expressed throughout the novel. The discussion will also open the students up to some of the key themes and literary symbols that are explored throughout the book.
Learn More: Ms. O’s Right and Wrong Unit
20. Learn About the Setting
This resource provides many helpful details about the setting of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, including vital aspects of Southern culture that contribute to the plot and messages about life. It also touches on historical race issues touched on in the novel.
Learn More: PBS Learning Media