Atticus, Boo, Scout. No last names are necessary, because chances are, you’ve probably read the classic American novel that features these unforgettable characters. In fact, you might have a copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird somewhere on a bookshelf right now. There’s a reason why this bestselling novel—which earned the author a Pulitzer Prize—has never been out of print and still remains a top selling novel after all these years. The book sensitively confronts the issues of race relations in the South and shows the importance of maintaining an open mind, not showing prejudice, and treating others fairly. As Frank Lyell points out in the July 10, 1960 book review he wrote for the New York Times, the moments that show this clearly help Scout to “decide very early in life that no matter how you try to divide up the human race, there’s really ‘just one kind of folks. Folks.’”
To celebrate the book’s fiftieth birthday, towns across the country will be hosting events, parties, readings, discussions, and performances all summer. HarperCollins Publishers has issued a special fiftieth anniversary edition of the book, and filmmaker Mary Murphy has interviewed prominent figures and compiled them in the documentary Scout, Atticus, and Boo. Although Harper Lee, 84, is not expected to take part in the festivities—she’s renowned for keeping out of the spotlight and living a very private life—To Kill a Mockingbird has maintained a legacy that speaks volumes.