"The Great American Read" Reveals "America's Best-Loved Novel"

Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird was named the winner on the PBS series.

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After more than four million votes cast, America's "Best-Loved Novel" is...To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

PBS' The Great American Read spent months discussing books with authors, celebrities, and everyday readers. A panel of book experts compiled the Top 100 list from results of a public poll, and viewers were asked to vote online for their favorite. The winner, dubbed "America's Best-Loved Novel," was announced Tuesday night in the final episode of the eight-part series hosted by Meredith Vieira.

The Top 5 novels were:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird

  2. "Outlander" (Series)

  3. Harry Potter (Series)

  4. Pride and Prejudice

  5. Lord of the Rings

Complete results from 1 to 100 show that, for the most part, voters leaned on the classics of the literary canon.  Eight of the Top 10 were written by women.

Fans of the "Outlander" series and its author, Diana Gabaldon, took to social media to celebrate the second-place finish and their successful voting campaign. But not everyone was happy with the choices made by the PBS voting public, espcially the top pick. 

Debbie Reese, founder and publisher of American Indians in Children’s Literature , tweeted, "That PBS readers/listeners chose TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and I bet they are same folks who attacked Indigenous ppl who object to Elizabeth Warren DNA test. Whiteness. It is ignorant. And can’t see its ignorance and harm it does."

Author Dhonielle Clayton tweeted, "I hate #ToKillAMockingbird ... I'm soooo tired of this white savior narrative. The fact that this is America's best-loved novel is so indicative of American bull****." 

For the follower who said he is required to teach Lee's classic, Clayton suggested "pair it with something from the same time that's from the perspective of black Americans and written by a black American about Jim Crow and white terrorism of black folks in the south."

One response suggested Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. Separately, a bookstore buyer from Denver took to Twitter to recommend readers who love To Kill a Mockingbird also read Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy "as an important and compassionate response and companion."According to PBS, To Kill a Mockingbird led The Great American Read voting from the first week, holding onto first place throughout the five months of voting. It received the most votes in every state except North Carolina and Wyoming.

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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (kyorio@mediasourceinc.com, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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