A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fahrenheit 451 is a classic example of dystopian fiction, written by one of the most acclaimed authors of American science fiction and fantasy. It depicts a near-future America where books are prohibited and the populace is placated with cheap, shallow entertainment. Ironically, the novel's inclusion in schools and libraries is frequently opposed by various special-interest groups. There is some violence -- the main character deliberately burns one of his colleagues to death, one woman sets herself on fire and burns to death, another attempts suicide with pills, a mechanical hound goes after one man and kills another.
What's the story?
Sometime in the near future, Guy Montag works as a fireman -- starting fires, rather than putting them out, burning the last few books in a society that views reading as dangerous. After his wife half-heartedly attempts suicide and an inquisitive young neighbor is killed, Montag begins to question his life's work. He keeps a stash of volumes away from the flames, and before he quite knows what is happening, he's taking huge risks to save what he once destroyed.
Is it any good?
FAHRENHEIT 451 is a classic science fiction novel and a powerful commentary on humankind's urge to suppress what it doesn't understand. The shadow of the Cold War looms over the plot, which may confuse some younger readers, but the truths Ray Bradbury unearths are timeless. The novel won the National Book Award and has been adapted for film, radio, stage, and graphic novel, and it's likely to be read widely for a long time to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why people feel the need to censor -- or even burn -- books. Are there recent examples of this behavior in the United States or elsewhere?
Ray Bradbury has said that the novel is less about censorship and more about the effects of television on our society. What aspects of Fahrenheit 451 support this interpretation?
Did the threat of war mean something different to Bradbury's audience when the novel was first published in 1953?
Why do you think attempts are made to ban Fahrenheit 451 from schools and libraries?
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