Grow: Secrets of Our DNA (Review)
Updated: Nov 21
Interest Level: Ages 5 - 9
Author: Nicola Davies
Illustrator: Emily Sutton
Publisher: 2020, Candlewick Press
Retail: $17.99, hardcover
Summary: A picture book that explains in simple terms how DNA helps living things grow, change, and evolve.
Children are very observant. They notice differences and similarities between how people look, move, and behave. Babies are attracted to faces, not just of humans but also of animals. Toddlers are quick to begin imitating other creatures. Why should we wait until they are in Middle or High School to begin teaching them about human development and DNA?
Davies' book Grow: Secrets of our DNA is a welcome addition to the science picture book category. The main text of the book, in large font, uses familiar and direct language to explain concepts that eluded scientists until the middle of the twentieth century. Smaller italic text, often in the form of captions, includes examples and more advanced vocabulary. Author Nicola Davies is a zoologist, and her expertise shows.
Emily Sutton's colorful and detailed illustrations are approachable and familiar looking. There are no cold, technical photographs or complicated diagrams. Instead we see the bounty of life on earth. The images of people are inclusive, and each figure is somewhat unique. A lot of thought went into every element of the design from the tiniest details to the larger page layout.
The content of this book is about as scientifically accurate as it can be for the audience. Some adults (and precocious children) may notice that humans are discussed separately from animals. The fact that humans are a type of animal is not implied or stated. If this bothers you, add "other" before "animals," and you'll be all set.
The target age range of this book (ages 5-9) is spot on, but be aware that independent readers may need help with pronunciation (no guide is provided). As a read aloud for younger children, the secondary text is optional. Older children will be ready to read for the information in the short Afterword.