Pamela S. Turner
Pamela S. Turner Always Evolving

“The short­est dis­tance between a human being and truth is a story.”

(Antho­ny De Mello)

I hope you and your fam­i­lies are stay­ing safe and healthy. It’s almost time for school to begin, so I have some help­ful links for edu­ca­tors … some read­ing sug­ges­tions … and the lat­est Crow and Raven Chronicles.

How to Build a Human Arrives!

How to Build a Human

How to Build a Human: In Sev­en Evo­lu­tion­ary Steps launched in April, and has been reviewed by KirkusThe Horn Book, Book­list, and School Library Jour­nal. Every review was starred, which means the review­er con­sid­ers the book out­stand­ing. Oth­er titles of mine that have snagged four shiny bits are Samu­rai Ris­ing and The Frog Sci­en­tist.

In-per­son events start­ed crop­ping up. I pre­sent­ed at the Texas Librar­i­ans Asso­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence in April, and the Bay Area Book­fest, along­side Dr. Lisa White of the UC Muse­um of Pale­on­tol­ogy and fel­low writer Eliz­a­beth Shree­ve. Both have ter­rif­ic evo­lu­tion resources to share (see below).

Back-to-School Resources

If you’re an edu­ca­tor or par­ent look­ing for les­son plans and ideas, here’s a down­load­able How to Build a Human activ­i­ty kit.

The Smith­son­ian has some great Human Ori­gins les­son plans for grades 6–12.

If you’re inter­est­ed in human ori­gins and sto­ry­telling, I’ve writ­ten a post for my friend Pat­ti Newman’s LITLINKS blog about con­nect­ing STEM and lit­er­a­ture through pre­his­toric sto­ry­telling.

Look­ing for lessons about the basics of evo­lu­tion? You can’t go wrong with the UC Berke­ley Muse­um of Paleontology’s “Under­stand­ing Evo­lu­tion” web­site.

And if you’ve been search­ing for books about evo­lu­tion for young read­ers, you’re in luck: writer Eliz­a­beth Shree­ve and pale­on­tol­o­gist Bri­ana Pobin­er have a curat­ed list, con­tin­u­al­ly updat­ed with new titles.

And check out the Nation­al Cen­ter for Sci­ence Education’s les­son plans about evo­lu­tion and the nature of sci­ence.

Racism, Race, and Evolution

Racism Not Race

If you’ve had a chance to read Human, you know there’s an author’s note about race at the end of the main text. Those were prob­a­bly the hard­est few pages to write, because I need­ed to make an impor­tant and nuanced argu­ment: yes, race and racism are real, but race isn’t bio­log­i­cal. There’s a new adult book on this top­ic I high­ly rec­om­mend: Racism, Not Race by Joseph L. Graves, Jr. and Alan H. Goodman.

I also rec­om­mend “The Biol­o­gy of Skin Col­or,” a video by anthro­pol­o­gist Dr. Nina Jablonski.

Crow and Raven Chronicles

I’m a vol­un­teer wildlife reha­bil­i­ta­tor spe­cial­iz­ing in crows and ravens. This year I focused on ravens, car­ing for nine young birds, four of them nestlings. Here they are grow­ing up, from nestlings to fledg­lings to big and sassy juveniles.

Raven and Crow Chronicles
Raven and Crow Chronicles

All of my ravens are now in a big aviary in Sono­ma stretch­ing their wings before their release some­time next month. Yippee!

Great New Kid Reads

Mystery of the Monarchs

Fall Down Sev­en Times, Stand Up Eight: Pat­sy Take­mo­to Mink and the Fight for Title IX, by Jen Bryant. A pic­ture book biog­ra­phy about the inspir­ing, indomitable Congresswoman.

Mys­tery of the Mon­archs, by Bar­bara Rosen­stock. Top-notch cross-cul­tur­al STEM to inspire cit­i­zen sci­en­tists of all ages.

Only One, by Deb­o­rah Hop­kin­son. This STEM pic­ture book man­ages to be simul­ta­ne­ous­ly fact-packed and lyrical.

Bearnard Writes a Book

Bearnard Writes a Book, by Deb­o­rah Under­wood. A charm­ing pic­ture book that explores the mag­ic of storytelling.

The Woman Who Split the Atom: The Life of Lise Meit­ner by Maris­sa Moss. A nail-biter that com­bines sur­viv­ing the Holo­caust with nuclear physics. A young adult title, but excel­lent for adults too.

Great New Adult Reads

Consider the Platypus

Horse, by Geral­dine Brooks. A com­pelling nov­el that com­bines his­to­ry, sci­ence, and a real-life horse that some­how I had nev­er heard about.

Con­sid­er the Platy­pus: Evo­lu­tion through Biology’s Most Baf­fling Beasts, by Mag­gie Ryan Sand­ford. Fun­ny, irrev­er­ent, deeply researched, and beau­ti­ful­ly designed, there’s noth­ing not to like about this round-up of evo­lu­tion­ary lessons.

A Question …

Is there some­thing you read as a child that impact­ed you much lat­er in life? A place you vis­it­ed because you read about it? A hob­by you took up? A path you wan­dered down…? Con­tact me and let me know!

Please stay safe, and I hope to con­nect with you via Insta­gramFace­book, or email

Pamela S Turner

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