Jane Goodall Shows Kids That Childhood Fantasies Can Become Full-Time Gigs

Children can invent all sorts of careers for themselves when they’re little. Although some stick to staples like “firefighter” or “doctor,” others can get more creative, like the little girl I once babysat who declared that she wanted to be “a horse-riding ballerina.” For kids like her, Jane Goodall‘s story shows that childhood fantasies can actually be spun into a legitimate job. Although she eventually became an authority on chimpanzees, Jane Goodall was once just a little girl who liked to play with animals in England.

There are two new children’s books out right now that frame Jane’s story as such: Me…Jane and The Watcher. Despite being authored by two different writers, both books focus on Jane’s childhood and early passion for animals. In particular, both authors include Jane’s memory of being four years old and sneaking into the chicken coop. She sat there for hours apparently, watching chickens in the hopes of discovering where eggs came from.

Patrick McDonnell, author of Me…Jane, remarked on how much of Jane’s career was rooted in her early childhood saying that, “it started at such an early age. It was really like predestined.”

Jane Goddall says that McDonnell really picked up on her fundamental message to children. She commented that:

If you have a dream as a child, you should follow that dream even if people laughed at you as they laughed at me for my dream.

(photo: nytimes.com)

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