The Boy Who Changed the World

Book Club for Boys: The Boy Who Changed the World

Book Clubs For Boys

My son had a great little boy book club based on this advanced historical fiction book that my Mom Friend Ann hosted. This advanced picture book reads like a zen koan and it took us several times though to get the gist of it but once we did, we were entranced. I had no idea that somehow George Washington Carver was somehow a pivotal person responsible for saving billions of lives through the creation of super seeds that yield more food.

Ann’s husband, Renato, is a scientist, so he led the boys in a relevant discussion of genes (human and plant) and how mutations create change. The boys, who are in first grade and second grade, were mesmerized by this discussion so I thought I would swing it from humans and plants into dogs, only because I read this great piece from National Geographic Magazine.


How to Build a Dog

Scientists have found the secret recipe behind the spectacular variety of dog shapes and sizes, and it could help unravel the complexity of human genetic disease.

All of the dogs are from the 2011 Westminster Dog Show. The American Kennel Club 2010 popularity ranking is listed after the name of the breed.

What is a gene?

Genes are the things that play an important role in determining physical traits — how we look — and lots of other stuff about us. They carry information that helps make you who you are: curly or straight hair, long or short legs, even how you might smile or laugh, are all passed through generations of your family in genes.

Each cell in the human body contains about 25,000 to 35,000 genes, which carry information that go toward determining your traits (say: trates). Traits are characteristics you inherit from your parents; this means your parents pass some of their characteristics on to you through genes. For example, if both of your parents have green eyes, you might inherit the trait of green eyes from them. Or if your mom has freckles, you might inherit that trait and wind up with a freckled face. And genes aren’t just in humans — all animals and plants have genes, too.

Genes hang out all lined up on thread-like things called chromosomes (say: kro-moh-somes). Chromosomes come in pairs, and there are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of genes in one chromosome. The chromosomes and genes are made of DNA, which is short for deoxyribonucleic (say: dee-ox-see-ri-bo-nyoo-clay-ik) acid.

from Kids Health 

And here’s a helpful cartoon video with great information on genes. It’s short at 2 minutes.

The activity was planting sunflower seeds and we are still working on getting some seedlings. Our bean plant from first grade science is finally spouting so I am hopeful that we have a little green in our thumbs.

Another great message in this book is about The Butterfly Effect, a term that I had heard of but never really understood and so it certainly never motivated me in any way. The beauty of this picture book is that it shows the connections from one great man to the next in both a plausible and realistic way which gives credibility to the idea of the butterfly effect. It even makes the reader realize what power he or she has on this earth. While the message is wrapped around a religion with a reference to God, it doesn’t detract from the truth to this idea though I would have preferred a message that was more karma-derived since a message referencing GOD is a little in your face. But is just me. And my mom is Buddhist.

Book Club for Boys Advanced Picture Book

The Boy Who Changed the WorldThe Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

The Boy Who Changed the World opens with a young Norman Borlaug playing in his family’s cornfields with his sisters. One day, Norman would grow up and use his knowledge of agriculture to save the lives of two billion people. Two billion! Norman changed the world!  Or was it Henry Wallace who changed the world?  Or maybe it was George Washington Carver?

This engaging story reveals the incredible truth that everything we do matters! Based on The Butterfly Effect, Andy’s timeless tale shows children that even the smallest of our actions can affect all of humanity. The book is beautifully illustrated and shares the stories of Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug, Vice President Henry Wallace, Inventor George Washington Carver, and Farmer Moses Carver. Through the stories of each, a different butterfly will appear. The book will end with a flourish of butterflies and a charge to the child that they, too, can be the boy or girl who changes the world. [advanced picture book, ages 6 and up]

To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book or purchase at Barnes and Noble by going here.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Wow, powerful book for children! These subjects: innovation and making a difference are near and dear to my heart. Really am trying to teach both to my children.

    I have added these books to my amazon cart.

    I need my son to hang out with your son. Yesterday, we spent the whole day in nature: at a lake then hiking these cool ledges (rock formations). When asking him what we should do for today, I suggested the library as it was forecast to rain. He looked at me with the disgusted “Oh mom, how could you even suggest” look. It gave me a good chuckle.
    Dr Rajka recently posted…I have a degree in molecular science but now I’m a mum no-one wants to employ me.My Profile

  2. Ann

    Requesting it now! Sounds really interesting. And how great is that that the boys got to hear about genes from a scientist dad – cool!
    Ann recently posted…Friday the…My Profile

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