“The Clairvoyant Writings of Ray Bradbury”
I came to Ray Bradbury’s writings in my youth, when the Great Man was one of the most celebrated writing talents of the time; his stories were in every science fiction, fantasy or horror magazine imaginable and were even showing up on TV and in the Movies. When I walked into a new or used book store in and around the city where I grew up, there would be title after title waiting for me to explore. Strange to say, but I tended to read more non-fiction as a youth, explorations in science of all types and every avenue of history just to name a pair of joys, but I would delve into a wide variety of fiction, especially science fiction and Mr. Bradbury’s writings had some elements that helped to hold my attention better than most.
Like some of his contemporaries, Ray Bradbury wrote short stories more often than he did longer formats like novels. No doubt this was due just as much to the opportunity to make a living filling the needs of the many magazines of the time as well as Mr. Bradbury’s prolific style and pace. Since short stories are short and I had issues with hyperactivity that made concentration a challenge at times, I could read a story or two and then move on to some other activity, returning to his writings when the mood took me. Sticking with longer novels wasn’t always easy in my younger days and only became common place as I stepped into early adulthood. What made Mr. Bradbury’s stories extra special was that most of his collections were a heady mix of genres, careening back and forth between science fiction, suspense, drama, regular fiction, historical content, and “futurism”, a little moniker I made up to describe stories like “The Murderer”, but more on that later.
I came to appreciate Ray Bradbury’s writings even more when I started using them in the classroom during my long teaching career. Reading a wide variety of engaging literature to students so that they are bathed in language, concepts and experience is the hallmark of any conscientious teacher. But realizing that stretching the minds and spirits of your charges during “read aloud time” is how the bar can be lifted in a way that is fun and exciting takes learning to new and more important heights. Students don’t even realize sometimes how far their minds are taken along the highway of deeper knowledge when they are being read to in a way that is uplifting and not “dumbed down. It didn’t take long for me to realize I had hit a home run by sharing M. Bradbury’s writings when I saw the rapt expressions of all manner of reactions spread across faces of young minds in my classroom over the entirety of those years.