From Fiction to Fact

Do you ever stop in the middle of reading a novel to find out more about the subject of your book? These days, it’s very quick to look something up online or on your smart phone. But sometimes a novel will interest you so much that you want to really dig into a topic. I often feel this way after reading a Young Adult novel. YA books are not just fantasy and coming of age stories. They take on all kinds of interesting social issues and historical perspectives. At the same time, teens have the intellect to springboard into most of the non-fiction we have at the library. Here are some book pairings that match a YA novel with a non-fiction book that will provide more information about the novel’s topic. I hope you have fun with these; they are great choices for teens and adults!

Author Sherri Smith paints a grim picture of New Orleans in Orleans, a futuristic look at a viral outbreak caused by climate change. Outbreak outlines some steps that scientists are taking to protect against this type of epidemic.

  

Those of us “of a certain age” have strong memories of the tragic Killing Fields of Cambodia. For teens, Never Fall Down and First They Killed My Father may provide a new awareness of this tragedy.

  

Yes, I realize that I have highlighted Tamar before! It’s just so good, I can’t stop talking about it. It’s also possible that I am obsessed with World War II Resistance movements. We rightly have lots of books about the male soldiers in the war, but Courage & Defiance highlights some of the ways men and women fought behind the scenes.

  

Code Name Verity and Women Heroes of World War II provide another look at World War II, this time through the eyes of women.

  

Walter Dean Myers tackles the U.S. role in a much more recent war in Sunrise Over Fallujah. Follow this excellent book with Heroes Among Us, first hand accounts of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  

The Russian Revolution has fascinated readers for decades. Tsarina approaches the subject from a romantic perspective with a touch of fantasy thrown in. Marcus Sedgwick uses the real life experience of children’s author Arthur Ransome to weave a story of spies and warring Russian factions in Blood Red Snow White. The Family Romanov (currently on the Eliot Rosewater reading list) is a fascinating account of the Romanovs and is also available as an audio book through the Indiana Digital Download Center.

      

Teens who have outgrown the easier environmental chapter books of Carl Hiaason will probably enjoy Anthill by E. O. Wilson. This book, written by an esteemed biologist from Harvard University, pits a teenage naturalist against land developers. To learn more about the need to preserve our forests, check out Forests Forever by John Berger.

  

Love Disguised is a light-hearted look at the beginning of William Shakespeare’s career and will appeal to fans of Shakespeare in Love. The Age of Shakespeare will answer any questions you may have about the culture in which Shakespeare wrote.

  

These are all terrific novels, and remember that enjoying non-fiction doesn’t mean you have to read the entire book. Feel free to browse through these choices and read whatever parts satisfy your curiosity.