If you’re passionate about making the world a better place for people, other animals and the environment, consider taking some time during this summer to engage with some of the many books authored by Dr. Jane Goodall! Dr. Goodall’s inspirational discoveries and experiences shaped breathtaking narratives like Beyond Innocence and My Life with the Chimpanzees, to name a few, but she has authored nearly three dozen books in her 84 years. Here’s a list of some of our favorite Jane reads to get you learning all about humans and other animals, as well as motivated and filled with hope!
VISIONS OF CALIBAN
As we learn to understand the world around us through Dr. Goodall’s works, we are also better able to understand ourselves. Dr. Goodall’s Visions of Caliban explores the insights into human behavior provided by chimpanzees. Chimpanzees share about 98.6% of the same DNA with humans. It’s no surprise that in Visions of Caliban, Dale Petersen, Dr. Goodall’s co-author, arrives at the realization that humanity is reflected in the expressions, body language, and the behavior of wild chimpanzees. The work itself draws upon William Shakespeare to frame the slave and master struggle between chimpanzees and humans, and challenges the resulting oppression by emphasizing their similarities to us.
“I suddenly recognized why I or anyone should care about what happens to the African great apes. … [N]ot because they are intellectual beings. But because they are emotional beings, as we are, and because their emotions are so obviously similar to ours. In the course of the day, I had witnessed anger, fear, and irritations– but also, I thought, real comradeship, affection, and love.” Dale Petersen, Visions of Caliban
Get your own Visions of Caliban HERE.
Beyond Innocence, Dr. Goodall’s second autobiographical work, details her groundbreaking discoveries, personal journey and hardships, and reflections on her later years at Gombe. Her letters, imbued with excitement as she relays the pregnancy of Flo, and with reflection as she comprehends the “dark side” of Gombe, provide a glimpse into her world with the chimpanzees. We can all learn from the persistence Dr. Goodall exhibited in spite of the many challenges she faced in her work and personal life. Her transformation into a champion for the environment, humanity, and other animals may inspire you to do the same.
“My answer to [the government]is (a) we cannot sit back and allow chimpanzees to vanish all over the country. We must TRY to save them. And (b) while we try, we have the opportunity to learn something. We begin to document all the different cultures. We collector film, video film, wherever we can.. We have out much before it is too late, before the chimps and their unique behaviors are gone forever.” Dr. Jane Goodall, Beyond Innocence
Get your own Beyond Innocence HERE.
MY LIFE WITH THE CHIMPANZEES
Dr. Goodall’s desire for adventure and her innate curiosity is captured in My Life with the Chimpanzees, where she recounts her childhood dreams and the journey to achieve those dreams. From a very young age, she read about the amazing animals of Africa and desired to see them, study their lives and write books about them. Though her parents could not afford to send her to college, she used her connections to align herself with her dream, and through hard work saved up enough money to travel to Africa for the first time at the age of 23. By choosing to pursue adventure and her passion, even in the face of challenges, Dr. Goodall would come to live among the chimpanzees when she entered Gombe, Tanzania, at the age of 26.
“My first journey to Africa was by sea on a passenger liner, the Kenya Castle. I was twenty-three years old. I shall remember that wonderful voyage as long as I live. … I wanted the trip to go on forever. I loved being up on deck, where I watched the sea and glimpsed dolphins, sharks, and flying fish. I especially loved it when it was rough and most passengers were in their cabins. I was lucky. I never felt seasick.” Dr. Jane Goodall, My Life with the Chimpanzees
Get your own My Life with the Chimpanzees HERE.
Me…Jane, a Caldecott Honor Book, will delight young and old readers alike with its intricate, vibrant artwork. From simple yet animated caricatures by talented artist Patrick McDonnell to drawings from young Dr. Goodall herself, Me . . . Jane illustrates the importance of believing in yourself and pursuing your passions, whatever they may be. Even if you may not start out in the manner you envision (after all, Dr. Goodall’s “Alligator Club” for her young friends growing up may seem like a scaly contrast to furry chimpanzees), your journey may lead to the dream you were meant to live.
“Jane dreamed of a life in Africa, too… a life living with, and helping, all animals.” Me…Jane
Get your own Me…Jane HERE.
Dr. Goodall’s own life was greatly shaped by several books, including Tarzan and Dr. Dolittle, which allowed her to imagine the possibilities of her life and the magic of animals. As the summer months roll on, think about how you can be an ally to animals and act on their behalf using Jane’s example when the situation calls for it. Check out all our summer reads on our eStore, and remember, pass a good book on!
The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.