Random Fact File #1: Scout’s Dill

At work, we often joke about the random facts we’re forced to Google as we fact-check and gather information to help our students write relatively accurate stories. Yes, they’re writing fictional stories, but it matters to us–and we believe it matters to their readers–whether the wild animals in their survival story actually live in the setting they’ve described. To this end, Google is our best friend. Sure, we could guess or rely on our occasionally suspect general knowledge, but why not check? And why not do so with our students? After all, modeling the act of research is perhaps just as important as finding out the answer.

The “Random Fact File” section of this blog then will pay tribute to the random facts I accumulate in my day-to-day–tidbits I learn through these Google searches, from my students or (heaven forbid) from actually reading. Far from being comprehensive, this section will primarily serve to collect a few I’d like to remember for future use, to trigger a memory or “just because I like it.”

In honour of the recent Banned Books Week, I’d like to record something I never knew about one of my favourite banned/frequently challenged books, To Kill a Mockingbird. I have read this book countless times from Grade 7 through college and continue to teach it to students today, but I never knew about the personal relationship between author Harper Lee and Truman Capote. In the August issue of Vanity Fair, an article about a lawsuit over copyright by the author noted that Harper Lee and Truman Capote were childhood friends, with the character of Scout’s good friend, Dill, modeled after Capote. It doesn’t change my reading of the book at all, but it is interesting to think about who in my life might yet serve as good inspiration for a character…


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