A permission slip to read 'Fahrenheit 451'? This dad can't resist the irony

The 60th anniversary edition of 'Fahrenheit 451'
The 60th anniversary edition of 'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

"Fahrenheit 451," if you remember from your high school reading list, is all about censorship.

It takes place in a dystopic near-future where books are illegal. The main character, Guy Montag, is a fireman — his job is to burn every last book he can find.

It's the kind of book you might not want to, you know, censor.

That doesn't mean people haven't tried. In 2006, a father in Conroe, Texas, wanted the book removed from his daughter's curriculum. She was a high school sophomore at the time, and he objected to the book's use of adult language.

"It's just all kinds of filth," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I want to get the book taken out of the class."

He had, for the record, not read the book.

Gain a Better Understanding of Today

MPR News is not just a listener supported source of information, it's a resource where listeners are supported. We take you beyond the headlines to the world we share in Minnesota. Become a sustainer today to fuel MPR News all year long.

Someone who does want to read the book is Daniel Radosh's 8th-grade son. Radosh is a writer for "The Daily Show," and he shared his son's attempt to read "Fahrenheit 451" on Twitter.

According to his teacher, Radosh's son needed his parents' permission before he could read the classic novel.

Radosh responded to the irony of the situation with a note that has now gone viral.

Milo's note:

Dear Mom + Dad,

My ELA book club and I are going to be reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The book is set in a dystopian future where books are highly illegal, and it is the main carachter's job to burn them. This book was challenged because of it's theme of the illegality and censorship of books. One book people got most angry about was the burning of the bible. Secondly, there is a large amount of cursing and profanity in the book.


If you are cool with reading this book, sign here.

Daniel Radosh's response to the teacher:

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 the 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.