I have written a series of books for 7 – 12 year olds called ‘The DNA Detectives’ which is followed by a title for each book in the series. The first book is called “The DNA Detectives – To catch a thief”, the second is called “The DNA Detectives – The smuggler’s daughter”.
This is the first children’s fiction book where the characters in the story use DNA to solve a crime. As well as enjoying the thrilling plot the aim of the books is to teach children about DNA, cells and forensic science through an exciting ‘famous five’ style adventure.
These books are all about the adventures of two children Annabelle and Harry. Their mother is a molecular geneticist who runs a laboratory in their garden. She tests DNA samples from animals and humans to see if they have inherited diseases, genetic traits or if they are related. She also runs scientific workshops (just like me!) to teach children about DNA.
It has been argued that the discovery of DNA and the understanding of its structure and functioning may well be the most important discovery of the last century. DNA is fundamental in our lives today in helping us to understand and treat diseases, develop gene targeted drugs and therapies, introduce better strains of crops and animals to feed the world, to trace families, unlock historical secrets and establish paternity and combat crime through forensic investigation. With such a key role in modern life it is a huge advantage for children to have a good understanding of the fundamentals of this subject.
DNA is a topic which is often perceived by adults to be complicated but this is a subject which presented in the right way (especially through a story) to children is something they will find easy to understand and exciting. I regularly teach children as young as 4 years old about DNA in my own ‘DNA Detective’ workshops.
Through this series of books children will gain an insight into the world of molecular genetics, forensic science and archaeology. They will learn how forensic scientists use DNA to solve a crime, what DNA is, where we find it in the body, how big it is and how amazing it is! They will also see how DNA is inherited, how DNA can be used to find out about the past and to bring families together by solving mysteries surrounding paternity and relationships. The aim of these books is to inspire some future scientists by encouraging a love and understanding of science.