It's All in the Genes

Great novels that support science inquiry -- genetics.

Read aloud novels that put science into context...

Bringing science content to life and placing it inside a bigger conversation is one of the best parts of my day (bit of a geek, yes). When our Grade 6s look at genetics and the science of reproduction it can be really challenging to connect it to our literature choices. Here are three of my favourite books (only one of them is science fiction) that are compelling stories of friendship woven around the amazing science of our genes.

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

Good things come in small packages... an amazing story of friendship and how powerful it is at empowering people to triumph over adversity. Two boys, one a "slow", reclusive giant and the other suffering from a genetic disorder come together to "slay dragons" in their daily lives. It is beautifully written and allows for strong literary discussions about Voice and Organization as well as placing the science of genetics in the reality of dealing with our genetic "hand" everyday. Click here to see an interview with the author.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

A hugely popular book in our library this story packs a huge emotional punch and takes readers through the daily life of a boy born with a severe facial deformity. Heading to mainstream school for the first time, he and his family have to deal with the unrelenting reality that results from a "genetic mix-up". An obvious chance to place the reality of genetic science into a context students can relate to, it is also a great read aloud that can be a focus for talking about Voice and Fluency. Click here for a book video.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

And now for something completely different... In the first of a trilogy, this alternate history, sci-fi adventure (that's a genre mouthful) WWI is being fought between the Darwinist who have genetically modified animals to become weapons and the Clankers who depend on metal machines. Friendship, the ethics of war and science and even gender politics are enfolded into this fast-paced story. Click here for the publisher's trailer.

The Books...