Thrilling Nonfiction Titles for Teens and Tweens

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Thrilling Nonfiction Titles for Teens and Tweens

Action-Packed books that will Inform, Reform, and Transform Young Adult Minds

With so many young adult fiction titles becoming movies and television series, nonfiction books for young adults can sometimes be overlooked by teens and tweens.  However, nonfiction books are a great resource for young adults that provide engaging storylines and exciting plots about historical events.  Many authors for young adult nonfiction books are using literature as a creative platform to present information and facts by chronicling the lives of actual people and experiences.  The D.C. Public Library provides an ample selection of entertaining and award-winning young adult nonfiction titles that are both lively and enjoyable for teen and tween readers.

Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal
The life of Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of Apple, is presented in this moving biography highlighting how Jobs’ early years as a young adult impacted his development and helped connect the dots to create Apple.  Jobs' view of the world is interpreted through three stories, centering around his relationships with his family, business partners, and children, which he shares at a commencement speech at Stanford University.  A college dropout, Jobs was considered a rebel, who thought outside the box and challenged authority.  He inspires young adults to live on their own terms: trust that the dots in life will eventually connect and don't lose out on love. 

Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind An American  Friendship by Russell Freedman
Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas both came from humble beginnings to rise through the ranks of power as contemporaries, with a goal to end slavery in the United States.  Though each one had a different upbringing, both gentlemen were avid readers and believed in the purpose of the Civil War to unite the country and to end slavery.  Their friendship was based on respect for humankind, not on constant communication.  Beautiful, black and white photographs display the strength and character of each man’s convictions, while adding depth to the text.  

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip M. Hoose
Researchers chronicle the amazing journey of the Rufa Red Knot, a shorebird that travels every February from the beaches of Argentina to the Canadian Artic for breeding, only to return back to Argentina in late summer.  Throughout their travels, the Rufa Red Knot will make various stopover sites at shores along the way, including Delaware Bay, refueling for energy on various crustaceans, such as horseshoe crab eggs.  Scientists used an environmentally safe research technique, known as banding, to monitor each Rufa Red Knot’s development.  One Red Knot stood out the most among the other shorebirds, B95 (the assigned banding number of this particular rufa red knot.)  Despite various challenges on the journey, such as food shortages due to human activity, B95 still found a way to fly from Argentina to Canada on multiple flights, while 80% of the Rufa Red Knot population neared extinction.  B95’s resiliency is a testament to the bird’s survival and motivated scientists and young adults around the world, who served as advocates for protecting the Rufa Red Knot from extinction.

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
An espionage, spy thriller that uncovers the race between the United States, Germany, and Russia to build the first atomic bomb during World War II.  The lives of renowned scientists around the world, who played major roles in the development of this devastating weapon, are also brought into perspective, such as Robert Oppenheimer, Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner, and Igor Kurchatov. The scientific breakthrough of the bomb is also intertwined with political intrigue and various subplots from various parts of the world from Norway, Great Britain, and Japan.  Readers gain first-hand insights into the thoughts of world leaders and the interworkings of spy networks, such as the KGB, to gain a military advantage over their enemies. The themes of nationalism and adventurous young people, who stretched their imagination and creativity to support their political viewpoints, will serve to motivate teens to become aware of the news not only in their immediate community, but of national and international news as well.  

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin
This action-packed historical biography of Benedict Arnold gives teens a vivid picture of America’s most reviled traitor during the American Revolutionary War.  Arnold was raised in a prominent family in New Haven, Connecticut, who lost their wealth and good standing.  Inspired to revive his family’s name and status, Arnold made bold and courageous moves that garnered him fame and recognition as an American soldier, which included forming America’s first fleet of naval ships. Arnold’s lack of political savvy eventually would lead to his downfall, as he began to conspire with the British officer, John Andre, to restore a sense of respectability to his own character and conscience.

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels, America's First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone      
The story of the 555 Paratrooper Unit, "The Triple Nickels", is told in this historical nonfiction book.  Adolf Hitler’s powerful German Nazi movement was mounting in Europe, and in order to resist their takeover of Western Europe, the United States and their allies joined forces against Germany, resulting in World War II. While America was fighting against the ills of German fascism, America was not confronting the issue of racism directed towards Blacks in the United States, particularly black soldiers, who were not viewed as capable, intelligent fighters, but rather as servants within the military.  Determined to end this stereotype, the Triple Nickels, an all-Black paratrooper battalion from Fort Benning, Georgia, decided to train as if they were going to war and in the process became a top-notch unit that was recognized for their discipline and dependability.  Disappointed that they would never see the front lines of battle, the Triple Nickels would lay the foundation for the integration of the military not only for blacks, but for women as well, as witnessed by President Harry Truman’s signing of Executive Order 9981. 

Check out one of these titles and other exciting young adult nonfiction books at your local D.C. Public Library today.