Darwin a Short Life Summary

This blog post is over the Charles Darwin's children book I read for my Science and Pop Culture class. It is titled "Darwin" and is written by Alice B. McGinty and is illustrated by Mary Azarian. The book is basically just a short story of Darwin's life and how he came to be along with a lot of beautiful drawings. Something else I found enjoyable about this book is that it features small pictures separate from the illustrations that show sneak peeks of his private journal and letters.


The book begins with Charles Darwin’s childhood. It discusses his love for collecting things, exploring, and experimenting with chemicals. When he began school, the book made it very clear that Charles was much more interested in discovering things in nature than being in class or studying. However, he did love to read, just not anything school related… He was kicked out of school at a young age because of his will to explore and none to study. But his father did not like this and sent him to school to be a doctor just like himself. Charles had different plans. Charles could be seen as a young role model for some people for his defiance in letting someone else (his father) control what he wanted to do with his life. Charles feared his father’s disappointment, but went in to do exactly what he wanted to do. Medical school did not go so well for Darwin and his father then sent him to school to study being a priest. I find it interesting the way the author portrays Darwin’s beliefs in a children’s book. She states that “Though Charles believed in God and the Bible, he thought the classes that prepared him to be a pastor were just as dull as those in medical school.” This helps lead into the Science vs Religion discussion and make it a little easier for kids to grasp. After medical school and studying to be a pastor didn’t work out for Charles, a professor changed his life forever. Charles received a letter from Professor Henslow that asked him if he wanted to participate in a five year journey to around the world to study and observe nature. Once again Charles’s father ignored his plea to do something he felt passionate for. In the book the author includes the actual list of objections that his father gave to Charles. Number two of the list read, “A wild scheme.” Eventually through tough insisting and help from his uncle, Charles finally got his fathers permission. On this journey, Charles discovered many new species of animals and plants. The book goes into great detail about Darwin’s trip and the animals and fossils he discovered. It eventually discusses that he began to understand evolution and that he soon came to start questioning his religious beliefs. A touchy subject for a children’s book, wouldn’t you agree? Charles kept his thoughts about science and religion to himself throughout most of his life, in fear that people would judge him and be cruel to him. Hmmm, sounds like some things happening in this world today, doesn’t it? The book continues to dive into his discovery of evolution and “natural selection” known today as survival of the fittest. He eventually publishes his work and becomes the most well known scientist of that time, and probably still one of many today.

I think that it is interesting how much this ‘children’s’ book refers to Darwin’s questioning of his religion. Something a lot of parents probably don’t want their children reading about. If only Charles Darwin could see how far his work has come throughout the world today. In my opinion the Science vs. Religious debate seems to be bigger than ever! I think that it is good to learn about someone like Charles and am glad to know there are books written for younger kids so that they can have the opportunity to build opinions of their own instead of being influenced by others.