For Educators—Integrating Literature & Science

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is recommended by The National Science Teachers Association, Green Teacher, and The Hawaii Children’s Science Book Project. The book is also being used in Waldorf and Jesuit schools.

Click below for examples of the book’s use in the K-16 curriculum . . .

Higher Education


Neohelix albolabris on fern
Photo: Author photo

  • Sewanee, The University of the South, nature writing course by Professor David Haskell.
  • University of Washington-Seattle curriculum adoption for the senior thesis classes “Monsters & Aliens: Encountering Others.” Anthropology Professor Maria Elena Garcia, Comparative History of Ideas & Jackson School of International Studies.
  • Princeton University, curriculum adoption for the freshman seminar, “What Makes for a Meaningful Life? A Search.” Professor of Russian Literature, Ellen Chances, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.
  • Mount Holyoke College, curriculum adoptions for “Introductory Biology: Diversity of Life,” Professor Susan R. Barry, Biological Sciences, and “Introductory Biology: Animal Bodies, Animal Functions,” Professor Sarah Bacon, Biological Sciences. Sarah Bacon’s syllabus is available for download in left column of this page.
  • State University of New York, Purchase Campus, curriculum adoption for the class “Science & Writing,” adjunct professor Katherine Hurley.

Middle and High School

Illustration: Ken Hotopp

Illustration: Ken Hotopp

  • Loyola Blakefield High School. Biology teacher, Ryan Bromwell, designed and implemented a six-week teaching unit based on the Wild Snail book for his 9th grade advanced biology class. His students read the book and have weekly assignments involving writing, discussion, and science activities and experiments related to the book. This is the third year Ryan has used the book in the classroom and this year the students are launching the Wild Snail Book Migration Project. He presented on his Wild Snail curriculum at the Jesuit Secondary Education Association Colloquium. See Ryan’s powerpoint and information flyer in the left column of this page on using the book in the classroom.
  • Coastal Studies for Girls: a semester science and leadership school. Marine science teacher, Elizabeth Halliday, works with 10th grade girls. The students designed periwinkle behavior studies and read Part III of the book. The author Skyped into their yurt classroom for a presentation and Q&A.

Primary School

One of the Author's terrariums Photo: Deborah Smith

One of the Author’s terrariums
Photo: Deborah Smith

  • Primary education teachers are reading the book and selecting excerpts to share with their students. They often create terrariums in the classroom and encourage their students to practice their observational skills as they monitor an ecosystem and watch any live inhabitants.
  • At the Lyceum, a private 5th grade gifted and talented class taught by Meg Shevenock, students read the book themselves, wrote reflective essays on the book’s interdisciplinary and philosophical subjects and also wrote poems from a snail’s perspective. They took a field trip to visit the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and met with malacologist, Tim Pearce.

What Teachers Are Saying

“Bailey’s prose and narrative are accessible even for Middle School students [and her] exhaustive research makes the book detailed enough for Advanced Placement and university classrooms. From its cliff-hanging prologue to its reflective epilogue, Bailey’s book provides wonderful examples of different types of writing within a natural history context. Teachers looking for a versatile natural history trade book to engage their students will be delight[ed].” —Ryan Bromwell, science teacher, Loyola Blakefield High School, Maryland

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating . . . teach[es] observation and research from an interdisciplinary standpoint. Rather than just having students memorize, creative prose can capture [students’] attention.” —Elizabeth Halliday, Coastal Studies School for Girls, Maine

“The Wild Snail book offers that beautiful web of interconnectivity and deep-thinking questions that my students thrive on. The side-by-side of poetry and science helped to reinforce the idea that the most valuable learning is integrated learning.”
—Meg Shevenock, gifted & talented teacher, The Lyceum, Pennsylvania

Wild Snail book raised possibilities for thinking theoretically about the distance and proximity between humans and the animals we encounter every day.”
—Maria Elena, Professor of Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle

The Story of a Snail, a Writer, and a Scientist

A National Writing Project interview with Elisabeth Tova Bailey, author, and Tim Pearce, malacologist.

This natural history/literature trade book is being used in classroom curricula in many disciplines and at all levels from primary through higher education. With its blend of literature, natural history, and medical humanities, it is a model for interdisciplinary writing. It can be used to address Common Core (CC) standards for literacy and to illustrate many of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The medical humanities component is applicable for pre-med and medical school students. If you are already using the book in your classroom, we’d love to hear about your experience on the contact page.

The Hawaii Children’s Science Book Project
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating received a double AA rating for 9th-12th grade. Strongly recommended, excellent. Outstanding illustrations. Exhibits all the best qualities of the following eight evaluation factors: accuracy, currency, author’s qualifications, organization and format, illustrative matter, literary qualities, and balance and objectivity and promotion of scientific attitudes and skills.

terrarium picture by Stacey Cramp

 Photo credit: Stacey Cramp