The Kingdom of Microbiota


In developing our project and learning more about the colon, we learned a lot about the microbiota. With the increasing use of probiotics to improve intestinal health as well as the use of bacteria in synthetic biology, we thought that this would be a prime opportunity to teach children about their own gut microbiota and show that not all bacteria is harmful.

We decided to write a children’s book titled The Kingdom of Microbiota with the goal of teaching children about the good bacteria that inhabit their gut. The story depicts a tour around the fictional kingdom as the tour guide, aptly named Flora, talks about all of the tasks the citizens do to help keep the kingdom functioning. The king is aptly named King Colon! The final pages of the book provide a glossary of bacteria and other intestinal structures that perform these tasks within our own gut, so children and parents that want to know more can easily find it.

Feedback from Experts

Leah Russell

We contacted Leah Russell due to her experience in scientific writing, educational materials, and book design. She was able to proofread our book for mechanical elements and gave us tips on formatting our book to make it most marketable to our target audience. She also connected with contacts that could help us with eventually publishing the book.

Dr. Allison Morris, MD, MS

We contacted Dr. Allison Morris, MD, MS, a faculty member at UPMC whose research focuses on the gut microbiota. Dr. Morris was able to read our book and help us make sure that our analogies for the book characters and functions accurately represented the the gut microbiota. Additionally, Dr. Morris helped us think about how to frame the introduction of the book in a way that readers can begin to connect the analogies as they read along rather than only at the end.

Feedback from Target Audience

We were able to get the book read to children in our target age group for a test run. While some of the younger children did not initially understand that the characters were bacteria, they were able to make the connection as the story went on. Older children who have a bit more scientific background were able to think deeper and ask question about like where the bacteria come from or what could cause the "population reduction" in our own microbiota. After reading, readers were able to deduce how the Kingdom would be affected if certain characters were removed. Overall, children were able to engage withe story while also learning about the gut microbiota.

Click here to view the book!