Incorporating To Kill a Mockingbird writing assignments into your TKM unit increases engagement and builds essential skills. Here are 23 To Kill a Mockingbird writing prompts ranging from poetry to formal research. Keep reading to view 15 ideas for TKM projects.
- Creative Writing (8 prompts)
- Persuasive / Argument (4 prompts)
- Informative / Expository (11 prompts)
To Kill a Mockingbird Creative Writing Prompts
Write a Symbol Poem
We will look at symbolism in poetry to prepare for analyzing To Kill a Mockingbird. You will analyze a famous example and then write your own original poem that contains a symbol.
Share a reading of “The Secret Heart” by Robert Peter Tristram Coffin (or another poem with a clear symbol).
Write a poem that contains a meaningful symbol and be prepared to offer analysis of your key poetic elements.
- Theme or feeling:
- Tone (speaker’s attitude):
- Mood (feeling created):
- Bonus element (imagery, figurative language, sound device, etc.):
Creative Writing with Imagery
Imagery draws readers in and kick-starts their imaginations through word choice. Imagery means giving descriptive details and figures of speech that allow the reader to imagine with their senses.
“She was horrible. Her face was the color of a dirty pillowcase, and the corners of her mouth glistened with wet, which inched like a glacier down the deep grooves enclosing her chin. Old-age liver spot dotted her cheeks, and her pale eyes had black pinpoint pupils. Her hands were knobby, and the cuticles were grown up over her fingernails. Her bottom plate was not in, and her upper lip protruded; from time to time she would draw her nether lip to her upper plate and carry her chin with it. This made the wet move faster.”
Demonstrate imagery by creating an original example and providing analysis. Your example of imagery can take one of several forms: a short story, an excerpt from an imagined narrative, a poem, or an in-depth description of a person, place, or event (descriptive essay).
Word choice terms:
- Figurative language: metaphor, personification, simile, hyperbole, understatement, idiom, etc.
- Connotations: the feelings and thoughts associated with particular words.
- Imagery: helping readers imagine with their five senses
- Allusions: references to or use of source materials
- Sound devices: rhythm, rhyme, onomatopoeia, etc.
- Sense of time and place: dialogue, dialect, allusions, and references
- Tone: the narrator’s attitude toward the subject
- Mood: how the words create feelings in the reader
The Lost Chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird
The class will be perpetrating an elaborate hoax. Everyone will write a “missing chapter” for To Kill a Mockingbird. The best fraud (selected by a class vote) will be published online along with lies about how Harper Lee wrote it.
Your “missing chapter” must fit thematically and show the elements of plot structure (conflict, inciting incident, etc.) The point of view must match the narration of TKM, and the word choice should imitate Lee’s style.
Harper Lee is a master of writing dialogue. The way her characters express themselves makes their personalities and motivations come to life. The dialect they use creates a sense of time and place.
Write an original narrative that includes dialogue. Your story could be from your own life or pure imagination. Remember that dialogue is the focus.
Write an original narrative with a literary symbol that develops the theme. You might choose to use the symbol in the story’s title (e.g., “The Last Fudgsicle”). The story could be a true event, totally fictional, or somewhere in between.
Your story should have all the narrative elements (theme, characters, plot, etc.), but give extra attention to establishing point of view (the narrator and the narrator’s tone) and using a literary symbol.
Example: “The Last Fudgsicle”
A thirteen-year-old boy named Zeek is saving the last fudgsicle in the freezer. He is trying to act more like an adult (drinking coffee, being responsible, etc.), so he is saving this childish treat for a special occasion. Zeek’s father dies unexpectedly and Zeek is crushed. After the funeral, Zeek decides he will eat the treat, but he discovers that it is no longer there. He also realizes that he will have some serious responsibilities as the family moves forward. The fudgsicle represents the end of his childhood. He should have enjoyed being childish while he had the chance.
To Kill a Monologue
In this To Kill a Mockingbird creative writing prompt students write a theatrical monologue for one of the characters. The goals focus on characterization, character motivation, and point of view.
Point of View Shift
Lee chooses the point of view in To Kill a Mockingbird carefully. An adult Jean Louise Finch looks back on her childhood. Through her memories we experience the events with the eyes a child. Sometimes the point of view is childish and sometimes the adult point of view comes through.
Rewrite one chapter or event from the novel from a different point of view. You may choose a first-person narrator or a third-person narrator. Make sure to establish and maintain the point of view. Follow your re-write with an explanation of how the point of view shift changes the telling.
Foreshadowing in Creative Writing
Lee creates feelings of tension and suspense in To Kill a Mockingbird. Think about how the writing puts the reader on edge leading up to the attack on the children. One way that Lee creates tension and suspense is through foreshadowing, clues about what may happen.
Write an original narrative that includes at least two types of foreshadowing. The foreshadowing should help build a sense of anticipation, suspense, or mystery.
Types of foreshadowing:
- Concrete foreshadowing: A material item is shown so that the reader or viewer will remember it for later (e.g., the kitchen knives shown early in the horror film).
- Word choice: The author might clue you in to what type of story this is through word choice. (Why did the author describe the ocean as blood red instead of wine red?)
- Direct foreshadowing: A knowledgeable source tells you exactly what is going to happen.
- Flashback / flash forward: The author interrupts the timeline to inform the reader.
- Symbolism: Imagine a gangster movie that starts with a bunch of rats killing each other in an alley; they all die. The filmmaker started this way to give you a clue.
- Red Herring: A red herring is misleading foreshadowing. The author wants you to guess wrongly. Many readers think that these fishy clues stink.
Get the ready-to-print To Kill a Mockingbird assignment pages
To Kill a Mockingbird Writing Prompts: Persuasive / Argument
Should Mockingbird Fly Away?
Many schools are dropping To Kill a Mockingbird from the curriculum. Choose a position on whether To Kill a Mockingbird should be read in schools. Does it deserve its place as one of the most read texts in American classrooms? Write a formal argument to support your position and be sure to address counterarguments.
Outline for a possible response:
- To Kill a Mockingbird should not be required reading.
- Students are harmed by seeing and/or hearing the n-word and racist ideas.
- The inclusion of a false accusation of rape may negatively shape student views.
- The portrayal is racist; Atticus shows agency but African Americans do not.
- The symbolism is too obvious and heavy-handed.
- Some feel that racial slurs are a reality to be faced, but this is a topic best left to parents.
- In conclusion, To Kill a Mockingbird should not be required reading.
Free Robinson Speech
Imagine that Tom Robinson is alive and in prison. You have been selected to give a speech in the Alabama House of Representatives to rally support for a retrial.
Your speech in support of Tom Robinson should take the form of a formal argument with a clear claim, supporting reasons with evidence, and a response to counterarguments. Pair your sound argument with effective speech devices.
Hypocrisy: when one claims to have moral standards that they do not actually follow (e.g., a gossip who claims to despise gossip).
Editorial: a newspaper article written by or on behalf of an editor that gives an opinion on a topical issue.
Harper Lee shows the hypocrisies of Maycomb to make her points. For example, The Missionary Society claims to support charity, but the members are very uncharitable in thought and practice.
What hypocrisies do you see in life? Write an editorial to argue against a reality that you view as hypocritical. Topics can range from the serious to the trivial (e.g., a teacher who does not allow students to have drinks in class but is known to spill coffee during lessons).
- State the opposing claim: Some conclude that…
- Recognize their reasons: They form this conclusion based on…
- Give your response: This does not change the fact that…
Does the Jury System Work?
The 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that those accused of a crime receive a speedy, public trial by an impartial (fair) jury.
Is the jury system used in the United States fundamentally flawed or fundamentally just? Would you be proud to perform your duty as a juror? Conduct a short research project on how the jury system works. Should the jury system remain, or should justice be served in a different way?
Questions to research:
- How does serving on a jury work?
- In what ways is the jury system just?
- What are some famous examples of the system failing?
- What issues caused the failures?
- What alternatives to trial by jury have been suggested?
To Kill a Mockingbird Writing Assignments: Informative / Explanatory
A New Point of View (personal essay)
What does it mean to be grown up? How do you know when you are an adult? What are different points of view on the meaning of adulthood? (Think about legal, cultural, and personal definitions.)
One theme of the novel focuses on growing up. The kids in the story experience events that change their points of view in important ways. You will write a short personal essay on an event from your own life that changed your point of view.
Example: My First Time Babysitting
- Main idea: I learned that being a caretaker is no easy task.
- Body 1: Why I thought that taking care of younger kids would be easy money
- Body 2: The horrific details of my babysitting experience (AKA “The Twins of Evil”)
- Body 3: What it takes to be responsible for others.
To Kill a Mockingbird in Context (research report)
Harper Lee wrote and published To Kill a Mockingbird during the Civil Rights Movement, but her story takes place decades earlier, during the Great Depression.
To fully understand the historical context of To Kill a Mockingbird, one must think about America in the 1930s and in the 1950s-1960s. Choose a topic related to the historical context of the novel, conduct formal research, and compose a research report.
Truth and Fiction
Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird during the Civil Rights Movement, but her story takes place decades earlier. Aspects of the fiction resemble real-life events of the Jim Crow Era.
Research events and realities from the segregation era and compare what you learn with the events described in To Kill a Mockingbird. Consider important court cases, laws, crimes, and social norms. Include evidence from your research and examples from the novel in your comparison.
Scout’s Point of View
Write a response to literature essay analyzing how Lee uses point of view in To Kill a Mockingbird. We stand in Scout Finch’s shoes as the events of the novel unfold. The telling would be very different from the point of view of Atticus, Tom Robinson, or an objective (not involved) narrator.
Make sure to discuss Scout’s point of view at the beginning of the novel, her point of view at the end of the novel, and her point of view as an adult looking back on the events.
Lee’s Style (word choice)
How does an author make language powerful and engaging? Lee chooses her words carefully to create emotions and sensations. The imagery she creates makes a memorable impression on many readers.
Write an essay analyzing Lee’s style, especially her word choice. You will be graded on how well you explain elements of word choice, support your ideas with specific details, and include an effective conclusion.
Identify key elements of Lee’s word choice and how she uses them.
- Dialogue and dialect (how the characters talk)
- Figurative language (idioms, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, analogy, etc.)
- Word connotations (the thoughts or feelings of specific words and phrases)
- Imagery / sensory details (the five senses help the reader imagine)
- Tone (the narrator’s attitude toward the subject – including the level of formality)
- Mood (how the words create feelings in the reader)
- Sentence styles (e.g., short and direct or long and flowing)
- Sound devices (rhythm, rhyme, onomatopoeia, etc.)
- Allusions and references (mentioning well-known ideas, texts, or examples)
People love to discuss the merits of different adaptations of their favorite stories, but they do not often provide in-depth analysis comparing the versions.
Write an informative essay comparing the differences between the original novel and the 1962 film version of To Kill a Mockingbird. You do not need to decide which is better; it is more important that you make thoughtful comparisons.
Studies of Courage
What does it mean to be courageous? In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus wants Jem to rethink his definition. He uses Mrs. Dubose’s example to help Jem broaden his view.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.”
Write an informative, personal essay explaining what courage means to you. Support your ideas with case studies from history and real life. Keep in mind that a personal interview can be a research source.
Hypocrisy in Maycomb: Point of View and Irony
Harper Lee uses Scout’s point of view to show the ironies of Maycomb. Through her eyes we see how hypocritical people can be.
Irony: When the reality is the opposite of what is expected or appropriate.
Hypocrisy: When the behavior of a person or group is contrary to their supposed or stated principles.
Use examples of irony in To Kill a Mockingbird to explain how Lee uses the different points of view to express a message (theme). (Whenever someone is hypocritical it is ironic.) Choose three or more examples to examine the irony, the points of view, and the message.
Choose examples that you might write about in your essay body:
- The celebration of Africa (Egypt) in a segregated, all-white school.
- The justice system (that does not care about justice)
- The teacher who disapproves of reading at home
- The Missionary Society (that supports oppression in their own community)
- White people feeling threatened after the trial
- Dill the clown (who laughs at the audience)
- Atticus’ reelection (despite popular disapproval)
- The whispering lynch mob (It’s rude to annoy the man you are about to kill.)
- The thoughtful juror (The man who defends Tom was in the lynch mob.)
- Treatment of the Ewells (respected in court but not in life)
- Criticism of racism in Europe (Scout learns about Nazi Germany)
- Atticus the sexist
- Dolphus Raymond (the drunk who doesn’t drink)
- The supposed psychopath (Boo) is one of the kindest people.
Parts, Plots, and Episodes
A short story usually has a simple structure with a beginning, middle, and end. Long-form literature (like To Kill a Mockingbird) often contains parallel main plots, sub-plots, and even separate parts.
Write an essay explaining the complex structure of Lee’s novel. How do the parts fit together and what is the overall effect? Make sure to use structure terms effective transitions.
Growing Up (personal essay)
Much of To Kill a Mockingbird explores themes on growing up. For Jem and Scout, growing up includes discovering some awful truths about Maycomb and human nature.
Write a personal essay explaining what being “grown up” means to you. How do you know when you are an adult? What are different points of view on the meaning of adulthood? (Think about legal, cultural, and personal definitions.)
Foreshadowing in To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee creates feelings of tension and suspense in To Kill a Mockingbird. For example, think about how the writing puts the reader on edge leading up to the attack on the children.
One way that Lee creates tension and suspense is through foreshadowing, clues about what may happen. Write an essay analyzing Lee’s use of foreshadowing and include textual evidence in your explanation.
Foreshadowing Handout (PDF)
Choose an example to analyze:
- The kids’ mission to the Radley House
- Waiting for the verdict of the trial
- Atticus shooting Tim Johnson
- Bob Ewell’s attack on Scout and Jem
- Other: ______________________________
Get all the ready-to-print To Kill a Mockingbird assignment pages
Looking for TKM project ideas?
- Beyond the Mockingbird: Symbol Presentations
- Primary Source Gallery
- Is To Kill a Mockingbird Overrated? (debate)
- It’s Complicated (class display)
- Themes of Mockingbird Presentation
- Truth and Fiction (research project)
- Free Robinson Campaign
- TKM Artwork (visual exhibit)
- Maycomb on Trial (mock trial)
Read more: 15 To Kill a Mockingbird Project Ideas
To Kill a Mockingbird Writing Prompts summary:
To Kill a Mockingbird Creative Writing
- Writing a Symbol Poem
- Creative Writing with Imagery
- The Lost Chapter
- Writing Dialogue
- Symbolism Narrative
- To Kill a Monologue
- Point of View Shift
- Using Foreshadowing in Creative Writing
To Kill a Mockingbird Writing Prompts: Persuasive / Argument
- Should Mockingbird Fly Away?
- Free Robinson Speech
- Hypocrisy Editorial
- Does the Jury System Work?
To Kill a Mockingbird Writing Assignments: Informative / Expository
- A New Point of View (personal essay)
- To Kill a Mockingbird in Context (research report)
- Truth and Fiction
- Scout’s Point of View
- Lee’s Style (word choice)
- Comparing Mockingbirds
- Studies of Courage
- Hypocrisy in Maycomb: Point of View and Irony
- Parts, Plots, and Episodes
- Growing Up (personal essay)
- Foreshadowing in To Kill a Mockingbird
Getting students to write creatively, persuasively, and informatively takes critical thinking to the next level. I hope that you can use one or more of these To Kill a Mockingbird writing assignments in your unit.
If you would like the complete assignment pages for the To Kill a Mockingbird creative writing prompts and the rest, check out the To Kill a Mockingbird Unit and Teacher Guide.
Related post: To Kill a Mockingbird Discussion Questions
Related post: To Kill a Mockingbird Unit Test (PDF)