NEA Big Read
Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.

Ray Bradbury selling newspapers on the corner of Olympic and Norton, Los Angeles, c. 1938.

  1. Public presentations: Have students memorize a paragraph of Bradbury's novel and recite these at a public presentation. Have them organize a Big Read (or Big Recite) night in which they present each piece to a public audience. Ask each one to explain why these passages are valuable. Discuss how the experience of memorizing affected his or her understanding of the material.
  2. Parents' Night: Have students re-enact several different scenes from the novel as might be done in a movie version. Ask them to write down their lines in a script, but only in order to memorize them. Before each presentation, have a narrator explain the context of the scene. After each, have a commentator explain why the scene was chosen.
  3. Science Fiction Future: Ask students to create their own science fiction scene. Have them observe a routine, habit, or technological device that seems commonplace. Then have them brainstorm a future where this routine, habit, or device has gained exaggerated prominence. What does this world look like? Have students produce the scene at a local bookstore, library, or Big Read partner organization.
  4. Design: Ask students to design uniforms for Montag’s fire department. Have them create a logo for the fire department and the salamander. Sketches and drawings might be displayed at a Big Read partner institution. Ambitious students might actually sew their designs or create fabric models.
  5. Artist's Gallery: Team with your visual arts specialists and ask students to illustrate the most explosive, vibrant image in the story. Students should select the image that was most profound for them. They should produce a sketch, to be presented and reviewed in class discussion, which provides an outline for a larger piece of visual art. Allow students to work two-dimensionally or three-dimensionally.
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