Johanna Leonard, a teacher a St. Luke’s Day School, walked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Library on Goodwood Boulevard mid-morning on Aug. 3, and made eye contact with Louise Hilton — a former student and current library employee — who was reading aloud at the head of a block of chairs.
A few library patrons sat in the seats, some following along with copies of “To Kill A Mockingbird” placed on seats and some sat listening, periodically laughing at the childish antics of Scout Finch or cringing when the n-word was used.
Starting on the morning of Aug. 3, the library paid tribute to the novel, which was, until recently, Harper Lee’s only published work, by recruiting volunteers to read the book aloud.
About a dozen volunteers, including Leonard and Hilton, participated to celebrate the literary work and promote an upcoming book club and discussion on Sept. 15 of “Go Set A Watchman,” the second, and less universally received, Lee book.
When Hilton saw Leonard, she paused, stood up and walked over to Leonard, pointing to a passage, and turned over a large, hardback copy of the book.
Leonard sat down and began reading the end of Part I, while people walked by, some stopping to read and listen, with others just looking on with interest and moving along.
“We got the idea from Barnes and Noble — they did a Mockingbird Monday very similar to ours, and we thought it was a great way to recognize the novel, and let people know about our upcoming event,” Hilton said.
Barnes and Noble, she said, allowed them to use a Harper Lee publicity banner for the event, she said.
While many of the volunteer readers came from the library community, she said, there was quite a bit of community support.
Hilton encourages everyone who wants to participate in the September book discussion to read both books in preparation, she said.
The two are so interconnected that the book discussion will include both works and include a discussion about Lee and her place in popular culture when both books were released.
The book talk will be Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Goodwood Branch, 7711 Goodwood Blvd.
For more information on this or other library events, call the library at (225) 231-3750.