The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks with Teacher Guide

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.

This New York Times bestseller by Rebecca Skloot tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of.

Visit Rebecca Skloot’s website for a detailed teacher guide including Common Core Standards, a timeline and a cast of characters. The guide provides discussion and writing activities that will engage students in researching, reading, and writing across the curriculum. Guided reading and discussion questions are also provided for each chapter.