I am currently in a group that is doing a presentation on The Book Thief. Today was our first days, and a girl from my group did this great activity.
She first said, “We’re going to have a book burning.” She told us to write down the title of a book we wanted to burn on a piece of paper. There was a paper shredder in the front, and the shreddings were allowed to go on to the table.
As we write down the title, she explained that we had to burn/shred 28 books (out of about 36, I think), and if we did that, we would all get a full size candy bar. If we didn’t burn/shred that amount of books, then we would all have a five page paper to write.
Some people quickly went to the front of the room, held up their piece of paper, said what their book was. And we were all quite happy to burn some of them–math books, other boring and hard textbooks, books with very little substance, and that sort of thing. We liked burning books. It was fun.
But we also had the opportunity to steal a book. If we stole too many, then we wouldn’t get our treat and we would be punished.
There were some books that come up that some people hated, but other people liked–for example, Lolita, Catcher in the Rye, Life of Pi (which we shredded, by the way), To Kill a Mockingbird, and even the Koran and the Bible. Some the teacher saved and wouldn’t let us burn at all. Some other people saved quickly.
(We actually shredded The Book Thief, by the way. Which is sort of ironic.)
They were just pieces of paper, but some people really didn’t want those pieces of paper to be shredded. And most of us were just willing to enjoy ourselves, avoid the paper, and get a treat.
But when we were done, we had saved just enough books to get our candy bars. They were passed out. On the back, there was a Nazi flag.
We had a good discussion about it. There was a lot of group pressure to burn the books. It was sort of fun to watch them being shredded. We weren’t hurting anything. But where is right and wrong?