List Fun: Readable Nonfiction

As a teen/tween public librarian, I specialize in students from third grade through high school. My colleagues often will pull me in to help a teen or tween reader find books that will help them survive their school assignments. Usually without fail the one assignment I am called in to help with more times than not is when we have to adventure into the nonfiction section. Whether it is for a specific school assignment, such as a book report featuring a nonfiction title, a boy scout looking to fulfill their badge requirement or helping a reluctant reader fulfill their need for a SSR title, I relish for the chance to share my love for great nonfiction books.

If you have never given nonfiction a try, I am going to encourage you to give one of the titles below a shot. Nonfiction is a great avenue to turn to if they student is a reluctant reader, as a great nonfiction book can draw and keep their attention more so than a fiction book can on most days. It sheds light on a time period or subject you might already be interested in. If you are new to reading nonfiction books or if you know of a student who needs a suggestion for a school assignment, here are a listing of titles that I have successfully handed over AND students have reported back to me that they enjoyed it.

bombBomb by Steve Sheinkin (2012 winner): The first instinct is to recommend this book to those who like war stories. While this holds true, it fits to a much larger audience. The writing is incredibly fluid and it reads like an adventure story–only that it is nonfiction. Sheinkin is as master at bringing nonfiction to life so much so you think it breathes.

almostastronautsAlmost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone (2009 nominee): It seems that most students I know (and even myself) go through a fascination with space. We all know about about Neil Armstrong’s “ne giant leap for mankind,” but how many know that women had to fight for the right to considered to be an astronaut. Almost Astronauts tells us the story of this time, when these brave women fought to show the NASA that women can be as equally qualified to go up into space as men. Give this to anyone who fights for the underdog or likes to read about a lesser known aspect of space history.

popularPopular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Girl by Maya Van Wangenen (2014 finalist): When she discovers Teen-Age Popularity Guide, Maya sets out to follow the advice Ms. Cornwell wrote years before she was even born. Almost any teenager will relate to the awkwardness of trying to figure out who you are–without loosing yourself completely. Part memoir, part social experiment give this to anyone who will not take a book about an historical event or time period.

titanicTitanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (2012 finalist): The sinkable unsinkable ship, Titanic is one of the most well known ship in the world. Perhaps they have seen the Titanic movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet or perhaps they might remember reading or had a sibling read the Magic Tree House Book (Tonight on the Titanic) featuring Titanic, the story of Titanic often times is approachable to most reluctant nonfiction readers.

romanovThe Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (2014 winner): Royalty is often a draw, pulling in someone who might not otherwise pick up a book set during an historical time period. With murder, espionage and treachery, this book could appeal to both guys and gals. An interesting story paired with actual photographs, this book is a quick and interesting read.

portchicagoThe Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin (2014 finalist): The second Sheinkin book on my list, I could not help but add this one to it. This one tells the readers about a time in history they might not otherwise know about. Two explosions in 1944 rocked Port Chicago, igniting a battle on safe working environments. Told through trial transcripts, reports, first hand accounts and photographs, the story is brought to life at Sheinkin’s hand.

teammoonTeam Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh (2006 finalist): When we think of going up into space, often times we think of the astronauts and perhaps those who staff the control room. Team Moon brings to life how many more people it takes to put someone up in space. From the construction of the space ship to the seamstresses that sew the astronaut’s clothing, there are so many people involved in each and every space flight. Thimmesh tells the full story of how Apollo 11 came to be, leading to one of the greatest achievements in humankind–a man on the moon.

~Stephanie Charlefour, Love. Life. Read.