“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: In Seven Evolutionary Steps launched in April, and has been reviewed by Kirkus, The 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).
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
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.
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
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, 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
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!