Young Adult Nonfiction is not known for being the most glamorous category, perhaps others might say that is fiction. The books in this category do take our readers on journeys and with these journeys; we have the added benefit with knowing they are true. We do not have to ask readers to suspend belief because we know that when we crack open the pages of the books in this category, the story that emerges is going to be true. Whatever person, place or thing that is on is its pages—be it the time, place, person or event—it really happened. So while we may not be whisked away in made up tales, we are nonetheless taken away by authors of a great Young Adult Nonfiction book. Within these books, they also have the ultimate responsibility of bringing the truth alive to discerning readers so they will want to learn what really happened. You cannot sugar coat it, belittle or lie to them—they will call you out in an instant and you will forever lose their trust. Authors have to bring history alive in a way that it does not read like a boring textbook of the past—who wants to read that? Have something controversial to say—do it in a way that is authentic without passing judgment on others. While some subjects are often hard to digest, the subjects are handled in such a thoughtful manner that young adults are able get the much needed information they seek.
What we are looking for in Young Adult Nonfiction category is the best of the best in narrative nonfiction. Narrative nonfiction reads so much like a story that you have to stop and consider whatever or not you are truly reading a story because it blends information in such a way that it reads like a story. It will include informational graphics, pop out boxes, an index and other informational clues where appropriate to add valuable information. While how-to nonfiction and textbooks are fantastic in some cases, for CYBILS purposes, that is not what we are looking for so please do not nominate them. If you have read or written an engaging narrative nonfiction book for those in seventh through twelfth grades, we would love for you to nominate them for Young Adult Nonfiction!
– Stephanie Charlefour