As the novel progresses, the children’s changing attitude toward Boo Radley is an important measurement of their development from innocence toward a grown-up moral perspective. At the beginning of the book, Boo is merely a source of childhood superstition. As he leaves Jem and Scout presents and mends Jem’s pants, he gradually becomes increasingly and intriguingly real to them. At the end of the novel, he becomes fully human to Scout, illustrating that she has developed into a sympathetic and understanding individual. Boo, an intelligent child ruined by a cruel father, is one of the book’s most important mockingbirds; he is also an important symbol of the good that exists within people. Despite the pain that Boo has suffered, the purity of his heart rules his interaction with the children. In saving Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell, Boo proves the ultimate symbol of good.
I’ve taught it as a read aloud for 5th grade, three years running. I taught a one month Social Studies unit on the history of African Americans in the US and another mini unit on the Great Depression to give the students background knowledge of the Jim Crow South during the Depression. I have seen students who hate reading become “converted” to the world of great literature. I explain to the students that, while the main characters are children, it’s not a children’s book. I also explain that there is a difference between the books that they have read up to that point and Pulitzer Prize winning books. I teach it to children in the 5th grade knowing that they will probably read it again in Junior High or High School. I want them to have a good relationship with the book before it becomes a tedious task.