Daniel Radosh, senior writer for The Daily Show, had the greatest possible response when his child brought home a permission slip and asked for approval to read Fahrenheit 451.
You read that right – all the kids needed to obtain permission to read Ray Bradbury’s classic work about censorship and the insidious brain-melting qualities of television, and presumably if they were told no they wouldn’t be allowed to read it? Radosh had the perfect thought-provoking response, which you can check out below.
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.
We can only hope that the kids learn from the response, and avert the nightmarish, book-hating future that lies before us.