The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been used in thousands of classrooms and teaching programs around the country.

Teachers & Students

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.


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.


  • 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.

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