Parent & Daughter Book Club – My Life with Chimpanzees

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Our February book selection for 4th and 5th grades is…

My Life with Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall

Next week we’ll send everyone who has signed up for Book Club a Meeting Guide with Discussion Questions.

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About the Book

It started with an egg. A young Jane crouched in the straw of her family’s henhouse, determined to wait as long as it took in order to observe a hen laying an egg. Deterred neither by physical discomfort nor boredom, Jane witnessed the magical moment. It was the beginning of a lifetime of marveling at the natural world.

Jane has also made it her life’s work to protect and teach others about wildlife and the environment. Her passion took her from Europe to Africa, where she lived amongst and learned from a group of chimpanzees. This is the story, in Jane’s own voice and accompanied by her own photographs, of how she became the world’s preeminent expert on chimpanzees, and an activist to protect these extraordinary animals and their habitat.

Jane Goodall was born in London in 1934. She first traveled to Africa in her early twenties, and she has since spent much of life there, studying wild chimpanzees in Tanzania. In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute, which supports community-centered conservation programs in Africa. In 1991, the sub-group Roots & Shoots formed with the mission to support young people who want to create positive change in their communities.

Jane has written many books about her work for adults and children, and has worked on many films, including the 1990 movie Chimps: So Like Us, which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Buy, borrow, or download a copy of this book and read it before your February book club meeting.

The Girls Leadership Connection

Speaking out is not easy. Sometimes people won’t agree with you, and might even dislike you, because of your opinions. It feels safer to keep quiet, and we can even convince ourselves that it’s okay to keep quiet as long as we don’t perpetuate injustice with our own actions.

What is your response when you see injustice in the world? Do you frown, and turn away? Do you talk or write about it, expressing your thoughts to your community? Or, do you organize some form of action? It’s not easy to know what to do or how to help. Jane Goodall now works on a global scale for animal protection and conservation. But, she didn’t start on a global scale. She started by talking with her family, and later by studying one group of chimpanzees with a few other researchers.

How can you start to make the world a better place? Perhaps one way to begin would be noticing where there is a need for help and – instead of simply frowning and turning away – discussing it with family and friends. Together, you can brainstorm ways to make positive changes.

Learn More

For more information about Jane Goodall’s work around the world, check out the website for the Jane Goodall Institute (link to Also, browse the website for Roots and Shoots (link to, where you can learn about all kinds of ways for kids and their families to do good work for the environment and our communities.

If you’re interested in learning more about Jane Goodall’s work with chimpanzees, you can watch this 44 minute movie called “Almost Human” that Jane Goodall made with Animal Planet.

Almost Human with Jane Goodall from Cindy Frei on Vimeo.

Conservation and animal rights are only a couple of the issues facing the world today. If you’d like to learn more about global issues, Chelsea Clinton’s book It’s Your World has ideas that are both inspiring and realistic for kids who want to make the world a better place for all. (read our review)

Also, check out this list of non-fiction children’s books about women who have changed the world in powerful ways. These real-life activists are great models for speaking out.

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