How do you make Darwin’s story a must-read for teens? Frame it like a romance.
The new book Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman does just that. Today, Heiligman accepted the first ever Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults from the Young Adult Library Services Association–a division of the American Library Association. The ALA gives prestigious literary awards such as the Newbery and Caldecott medals.
Here’s Heiligman’s flash of brilliance: Darwin had an idea that changed the paradigm of biology–it’s hard for most of us to relate. But her book highlights parts of his life–falling in love, wrestling with religion, struggling with relationships–that are all too familiar. Especially to adolescents.
And they’re a tough audience to crack, given that the non-fiction category rules out vampire finches.