Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is renowned as one of the most important books of the twentieth century, but also one of the most controversial. The dystopian novel is full of social commentary regarding government sanctioned censorship in a post-Nazi Germany world, dealing with the aftermath of Joseph Stalin and McCarthyism. The book was understandably controversial in 1953, but you’d think sixty-four years later it wouldn’t cause quite the ruckus.
When Milo, the (allegedly, I’m having a hard time putting a pin on the age of this handwriting) 8th grade son of Daniel Radosh, a writer for The Daily Show, came home with a permission slip to be able to read the book, things got a bit snarky.
I love this letter! What a wonderful way to introduce students to the theme of Fahrenheit 451 that books are so dangerous that the institutions of society—schools and parents—might be willing to team up against children to prevent them from reading one. It’s easy enough to read the book and say, ‘This is crazy. It could never really happen,’ but pretending to present students at the start with what seems like a totally reasonable ‘first step’ is a really immersive way to teach them how insidious censorship can be. I’m sure that when the book club is over and the students realize the true intent of this letter they’ll be shocked at how many of them accepted it as an actual permission slip. In addition, Milo’s concern that allowing me to add this note will make him stand out as a troublemaker really brings home why most of the characters find it easier to accept the world they live in rather than challenge it. I assured him that his teacher would have his back.
tfw your kid’s school makes you sign a permission slip so he can read Fahrenheit 451 ? ? pic.twitter.com/t9lmD8vKTu
— Daniel Radosh (@danielradosh) October 24, 2016
Featured image via Simon & Schuster.