Friday, April 22, 2011

Homeschool Books Reviewed ~ Jane Goodall & The Chimpanzee Family Book

Book #1: Jane Goodall (Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers: Biographies) by Jo Kittinger

I'm afraid I don't have a picture of this one.  This is a simple, very basic biography of Jane Goodall.  It's a nice introduction to her & her work.  However, it is far too simple to be used with any but the younger grade school children.  It's published by Scholastic and is available in the Whatcom Co. Library.

Book # 2:  The Chimpanzee Family Book by Jane Goodall is a delightful story of one day in the life of a mama chimpanzee and her baby.  Jane follows them for one day & tells us all about what they do.  When I first flipped through this book, I thought I'd have to summarize the pages because there is quite a bit of text.  However, when I started reading it, I found that it was written in story-book fashion.  My kids enjoyed listening to it and looking at the pictures.  

Both books can be used for a study of Jane Goodall.  Her story provides a great launching point for lots of learning and discussion.  Here are a few suggestions.  They aren't all appropriate for all ages of children.

Personification:  Jane names the chimps rather than using the typical numbering system.  She also attributes human-like actions and feelings to them.  Is this a good thing?  How does it affect our views about the chimps?

Tool use:  Before Jane's observation of a chimpanzee using a stick to obtain termites to eat, it was believed that making & using tools was an ability only possessed by humans.  How does scientific discovery progress? what happens when we learn something that doesn't fit with currently held beliefs?  How do we currently determine what is a human?  What traits are uniquely human?

Treatment of animals:  Do animals have rights?  If so, what are they?  Do humans have responsibility to animals?  In what way do humans affect wild animals?  What about the Frodo's attack killing a human baby?  (Don't read this if you're pregnant; you'll cry.  Should he have been "put down?" How much interaction should people and animals have?

Science:  What did Jane expect to find?  What did she learn over time?  Did any of her theories change?  (For a long time she thought the chimps were kinder than people.  Then she learned that they can be very violent too.  Females at the top of the social order, sometimes snatch and kill other females babies.  Different groups of chimpanzees battle.)

History:  What has happened to baby Galahad in the last 20 years since the book was published?  (He died in a disease outbreak.)  What has happened to Jane Goodall?  (She's still alive and lecturing.  You can hear her greet you in "Chimpanzee" at

I hope you enjoy learning about Jane Goodall and chimpanzees as much as we did!

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