Teachers & Students

Rebecca at your college or university

If you would like to bring Rebecca to your college or university, please e-mail details about your request to Miriam Feuerle at Lyceum Agency: or call her at 503.467.4621.

In addition to being a riveting reading experience, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has become an important educational tool. Praised for its research, reportage, the ethical issues it has raised, and its unique relevance to a wide range of disciplines from the arts and sciences to law, medicine, anthropology, African American Studies, and more, the book has been used in thousands of classrooms and teaching programs around the country. It has been selected for common reading at more than 150 colleges and universities and is widely used in high schools, medical schools, and professional programs. If you are considering adopting the book, please visit the Community Reads/FYE page to learn more, read about experiences other groups are having with Rebecca and The Immortal Life, and see video footage of students discussing the book. If you have already adopted the book, below you’ll find teaching and reading guides, and other resources designed to enhance your discussion of The Immortal Life.

Resources

  • Teacher’s Guide (PDF)
  • Timeline (PDF)
  • Cast of Characters (PDF)
  • Listen to the Radiolab segment on The Immortal Life featuring Rebecca Skloot and Deborah Lacks discussing Henrietta and her cells, as well as exclusive audio clips of Rebecca’s interview tapes so students can listen to recordings of actual scenes they read about in the book.
  • Learn about Rebecca’s writing process, her expectations for the book, how she developed the book’s structure, and more (and see photos of the index-card story board she used to organize the book), by visiting the Writing Resources page of this site for various videos and interviews in which she discusses these things and more.
  • Visit the special features page of this site for photos not included in the book, videos of HeLa cells dividing, the BBC documentary discussed in the book, and more.
  • Read Rebecca’s advice to students as she wrote in UAB Magazine: The importance of following your curiosity and your passion, why letting go of a goal doesn’t mean you’ve failed as long as you have a new goal in its place, and how she went from learning about Henrietta Lacks as a 16 year-old biology student to writing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks decades later.
  • Perfect for classrooms! Check out this reader-generated online Jeopardy! game – you can play with up to 12 teams.
  • Read these profiles of Rebecca Skloot and watch or listen to these interviews with her to learn more about her book, her background, her writing process, and more.
  • Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page of this site for answers to questions commonly raised by students and teachers.

Photos

Rebecca has spoken about her book at more than one hundred colleges and university nationwide. View the slideshow below to see photos from her talks, many of which feature members of Henrietta Lacks’s family.

Henrietta's grand daughter Jeri Lacks and her daughters JaBrea and Aiyana talk with students and sign books

Courtney Speed and Bobette Lacks talk with students at Johns Hopkins

Dr. Roland Pattillo talks with students about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Sonny Lacks and his grand daughters JaBrea and Aiyana talk with students and sign books at Johns Hopkins

Bobbette Lacks and Henrietta's great grand son talk with students and sign books at Johns Hopkins

Lawrence Lacks with students at Johns Hopkins

Students at Johns Hopkins

Skloot with Duke University student wearing "Henrietta Lacks Fan" t-shirt

Students at UCSB Read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Students at UCSB create an "Identity Tree" using their fingerprints and their cell line names (first two letters of their first and last names, like HeLa for Henrietta Lacks)

Students Examine Live HeLa Cells Through a Microscope

Students at UCSB Read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Students at UCSB create an "Identity Tree" using their fingerprints and their cell line names (first two letters of their first and last names, like HeLa for Henrietta Lacks)

Students at UCSB Read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Students at UCSB Read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot talking with students and signing books at Johns Hopkins

Rebecca Skloot talking with students and signing books at Johns Hopkins

Rebecca Skloot talking with students and signing books at Johns Hopkins

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Rebecca Skloot talking with students and signing books at Johns Hopkins


See how other students are interacting with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks:

Rebecca regularly visits colleges and universities to talk about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Visit the Events page of this site to find her speaking schedule, and when she might be appearing in your area.

Named by more than 60 critics as one of the best books of 2010

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The Henrietta Lacks Foundation

The Henrietta Lacks Foundation strives to provide financial assistance to needy individuals who have made important contributions to scientific research without their knowledge or consent.