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What Happens When Students Are Told Their Books Were Burned

Meet Kendell Long, at 15-year-old 10th grader at the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy. We met Long during a tour of his school. We told him about The Big Read, and asked if he’d like to blog for us. He not only said yes, but set up a schedule, and got to work immediately. Long does it all—he’s the president of his class and holds leadership roles at the school’s yearbook and newspaper. Long’s favorite subject is English. “Writing sparks my liking because I enjoy how words can be manipulated in many forms, and also writing allows me to express myself without constraints of society,” he says. “I am very excited about venturing into Fahrenheit 451. I hope to gain a different perspective on how valuable books are when contrasted with a society where books are banished.”

It was announced to the school that someone came to confiscate all of our library books. A heavy silence overtook the room, blankness and uncertainty filled the faces of students and teachers. “They took all of them?” “No!” “What?” Those were just some of the reflexive remarks from students. We were told that a truck came and took all of the books, and another truck was outside at the time. These first announcements triggered shock, equal to that of a death, among the student body.  Everyone was convinced with the situation until the school revealed that the hoax related to a book that the 9th and 10th graders are preparing to read, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. When the book was announced you could hear whispers of, “I’ve read that book,”  “I love that book,” throughout the auditorium.

After the announcement, I asked students their thoughts of the event. “We would not have anything to read for fun during school time and after school, also we couldn’t look up anything we needed for school,” said Bryce Samuel, a 10th grader. Later I asked Samuel, who hasn’t read the book yet, what he thought it would be about. “Fahrenheit 451 will be about kids who don’t really appreciate books but when they are gone and taken away, they are going to feel like they want the books back.”

This was the first mention of Fahrenheit 451 to the school. As a whole, we look forward to diving deeper into the book, and participating in the activities throughout the city with The Big Read Dallas.  —Kendell Long


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