I recently listened to Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. It was fascinating and made me realize all over again how much I love reading (or listening to) non-fiction books. Bomb is part scientific discovery and part espionage thriller. It’s written to entertain as well as educate; it can be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys a good story, with the added benefit of being 100% true.
Because I work with library patrons of all ages, I made a point of reading books from all areas of our library. That, unfortunately, does not leave me as much time for non-fiction as I would like. That’s one reason I love to reach for books like Bomb that are marketed for a Young Adult audience. School Library Journal recommended this book for grades 5 and up, and at 272 pages, it’s perfect for readers of any age who don’t want to get too bogged down by every tiny detail.
Steve Sheinkin is really making a name for himself in the world of Young Adult non-fiction. This was my second Sheinkin book; I also really enjoyed The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights. We also have books by Sheinkin about Benedict Arnold, Jim Thorpe and Daniel Ellsberg.
Other authors that are writing truly excellent non-fiction for middle school kids and up include:
- Phillip Hoose: The Boys Who Challenged Hitler, Moonbird, and Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
- U.S. Congressman John Lewis: The March trilogy
- Tanya Lee Stone: Almost Astronauts: The True Story of the “Mercury 13” Women and Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles
- Candace Fleming: The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia
Because we do not have a separate collection for Young Adult non-fiction, please ask for help if you need suggestions or have trouble locating a particular book. There are some books in the Adult Biography area that are of definite interest to teens.
You might also look for recommendations on the Robert Siebert Book Award website. The annual Eliot Rosewater Book List always includes some non-fiction suggestions as well. This year’s Rosie list has The Boys Who Challenged Hitler (Hoose) and Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown.
Have you read a great non-fiction book recently? Post the title in the comments so we can help share the word!