My first encounter reading Ray Bradbury came in the sixth grade, when my teacher had us read “All Summer in a Day.” This story became an instant favorite of mine. I often wondered what it would be like to only see the sun once every seven years, especially during streaks of particularly grey weather. I wanted to know how the girl felt after the story ended, when she realized that she had missed her one chance to see the sun for seven years. I also couldn’t fathom how kids could be so cruel to another classmate.
In the ninth grade, it was Fahrenheit 451 that left an impression. Outlawing books?! I couldn’t fathom a bookless existence. Through this reading experience, I also discovered that I, in fact, enjoyed science fiction as a genre. I loved the idea that science fiction provided social commentary.
As a middle school English teacher, I was drawn back to “All Summer in a Day.” One of the many joys of teaching is the fact that you get to share your favorite stories with a new generation of students. Of course, when I reread the story as a teacher, I came at with a different perspective. First of all, how could the teacher leave her students unattended? Second of all, how did she not notice that one of her students was missing when they went to play outside? Beyond those nitty gritty details, I found that “All Summer in a Day” was an excellent way to open a deeper discussion with students about tolerating differences among classmates.
Although Ray Bradbury has left us physically, his stories remain for as long as we keep them alive. It’s our duty to share his stories with future generations so that the truly great American writers, like Bradbury, will never be forgotten.