May 2013
April 26, 2013

Check It Out: 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks'

Source: NYSUT United

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS bookcoverBY REBECCA SKLOOT

Recommended by: Melissa Santacrose, 9-12 Library Media Specialist, Chenango Forks TA

Suitable for: grades 9-12

Why I chose this book: Henrietta Lacks, known as HeLa to scientists, was a poor black mother of five who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital, tissue samples were taken without her permission and used for research. The HeLa cells were the first to be cultivated and made available for experiments, leading to the discovery of the polio vaccine and other medical breakthroughs. Skloot reveals the turmoil and angst it caused her family, who were kept in the dark, despite the billion-dollar medical industry HeLa launched.

How teachers can use it: This book fits well into the new Common Core standards. It builds knowledge in the disciplines, fosters text complexity, develops academic vocabulary and offers students the opportunity to practice citing textual references and writing from sources.

What I like best: The narrative writing style makes the book a captivating read.

About the author: Rebecca Skloot, science journalist and teacher, founded the Henrietta Lacks Foundation, which provides financial assistance to individuals who have made contributions to scientific research without personally benefiting.