Heiligman, Deborah. 2009. CHARLES AND EMMA: THE DARWIN’S LEAP OF FAITH. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 9780805087215 [Suggested Grade Levels 8- 12]
The intersection of religion and science is the main focus of this well-rounded look at the friends and family that influenced and shaped Charles Darwin’s life and work. In particular, the focus is on Darwin’s devoutly religious wife, Emma, who was Charles’ spiritual opposite, as well as best friend and the mother of his 10 children. Heiligman explores much about the scientist’s relationships outside of his marriage as well, looking at his father and siblings, friends and colleagues. Perhaps most relevantly, the book looks at how his revolutionary work resounded not only with the world, but within the walls of his own home and the level of personal conflict and sacrifice that Darwin’s work demanded from his life.
This is an unusual and appealing look at a historically controversial figure, often given in his own words. Heiligman makes a point to quote from primary sources, such as Darwin’s personal letters, over the course of the entire book, and provides extensive source notes as well as an index.
If you feel comfortable, have readers discuss the relationship between science and religion, how it worked in the Darwin’s marriage, and how the same relationship applies today. Use in conjunction with a science unit studying animal classification and evolution to better understand the man behind the science.
More books for young readers about Darwin and his work:
Brown, Bryson. EVOLUTION: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE. ISBN 9780313334610
Keller, Michael. CHARLES DARWIN’S ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES: A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION. ISBN 9781605296975
Sís, Peter. THE TREE OF LIFE: A BOOK DEPICTING THE LIFE OF CHARLES DARWIN: NATURALIST, GEOLOGIST & THINKER. ISBN 9780374456283
By Cecily Ponce de Leon