Even though it will already be two years this fall since I left my job as a high school English teacher, at times it seems like yesterday I was in my classroom, teaching American Literature to 15 and 16 year olds. When I was assigned that task- teaching sophomores all about the wonderful works of so many amazing American authors- I felt excited, and a little scared too. I knew I would be tackling a novel in the spring, and it was important for me to find exactly the right one.
So I chose Fahrenheit 451 to read with my kids. Everyday for a month we would crack open our old, 1950s dog-eared copies and read. And listen to Ray Bradbury himself while we did so, hearing the novel read exactly as it was meant to be read, gruff-voiced and enthusiastic. We read about Guy Montag, and Clarisse, and made connections to that life and to this one. And so many of my kids loved it, and so many of them got it- really, really got it.
For five years I experienced Ray Bradbury's genius through so much of his beautiful writing. Along with my students we explored his novels and short stories, and got to see ourselves and society's choices, through all of the eye-opening alternate worlds he created. Hearing news that Mr. Bradbury died today made me sad and nostalgic, but also so grateful that all of the amazing things I was able to read growing up, and still enjoy today, will forever be there for Henry and anyone else who might need a little magic in their life.
I will miss you, Mr. Bradbury.