Nonfiction for Teens
Some teens just aren't interested in reading novels, but do enjoy learning new facts, skills and even trivia from nonfiction titles, including biographies, histories, titles about sports or science, even how-to books.
A Wreath for Emmitt Till
Age Level: 14-16
Using a complicated literary format (heroic crown of sonnets) and wrenching subject matter (the lynching of Emmett Till) poet Marilyn Nelson creates a work of complete beauty. Each of the 15 sonnets feature a part of Till's story, using imagery and metaphor rather than straightforward graphic language. The illustrations by Philippe Lardy are a lovely complement to the poetry.
Hitler Youth : Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow
Age Level: 12-14
How were otherwise kind, intelligent teenagers drawn into an organization like the Hitler Youth? This well-researched and well-documented book examines the rise of the Nazi party and its sway over teens. Using primary sources, including interviews, the author features the stories of several teens who came of age during Hitler's years of power.
Lifetime of Secrets
Age Level: 16-18
The latest in a series of PostSecret, Frank Warren's inspirational community art project has become an immense public confessional. Several years ago, he left flyers around his neighborhood asking people to send him their secrets. Millions of books, art exhibits and speaking tours later, the secrets are still rolling in.
Gang Leader for a Day
Age Level: 16-18
As a graduate student, Venkatesh began exploring the housing projects of Chicago and befriended members of a Chicago gang (after the gang briefly kidnapped him.) Venkatesh reports on the underground economy at work and the allure of gang membership, and makes suggestions for reaching out to gang members.
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain
Age Level: 9-12
Growing up in Soviet-controlled Czechoslovakia, Sis craved Western pop culture, subverted authority in small ways, and maintained a strong fear of the secret police. This title won the Sibert medal for distinctive non-fiction for children.