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Nonfiction for Older Readers 2020

A selection of non-fiction for readers in grades 5-8.

Cover of Accused! The Trials of the
Larry Dane
Penguin Random House

This chilling and harrowing account tells the story of the Scottsboro Boys, nine African-American teenagers who, when riding the rails during the Great Depression, found their lives destroyed after two white women falsely accused them of rape. Award-winning author Larry Dane Brimner explains how it took more than eighty years for their wrongful convictions to be overturned.

Cover of An Indigenous Peoples' His
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz adapted by
Jean Mendoza & Debbie Reese
Penguin Random House

 America wasn’t “discovered” by brave men of the “New World.” It has always been and its people have a rich history of their own. Spanning more than 400 years, this book is a corrective to the conventional narrative of America’s history, examining the legacy of Indigenous peoples’ resistance, resilience, and fight against imperialism.

Cover of Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir

Written in verse, this gorgeous piece of writing is a powerful inspiration for any reader who has struggled with trauma. Grimes’ sought solace in words, her notebooks often her most constant companion as a child. Her talent and skill allowed her to triumph over adversity, and in this book, her writing is inspirational. 

Cover of Torpedoed: The True Story
Godwin Books, Henry Holt and Company

The true story and account of the sinking of “the Children’s Ship,” a passenger liner carrying 100 British children to Canada that was sunk by a German U-boat in WWII. This is a  well researched, well crafted tale of courage, bravery, and despair, but also of survival.

Cover of The Poison Eaters: Fightin
Penguin Random House

This book about Harvey Washington Wiley’s crusade for safe food regulation in the United States will fascinate young readers (and also maybe turn their stomachs… but in a good way!) Full of great visuals - food ads, newspaper headlines, cartoons - readers will be amazed at the nearly unbelievable stories of poisonous products and unwitting victims that lead to the creation of the US FDA.

Cover of Stamped: Racism, Antiracis
Jason Reynolds and
Ibram X. Kendi
Little Brown, Books for Young Readers

A reimagining (a remix!) of Ibram X. Kendi’s book for adult readers, Jason Reynolds shines a light on America’s deep history of racist ideas in language approachable for teens and tweens. But this is NOT A HISTORY BOOK Reynolds makes clear! This is a book about the here and now, to better understand where we are, and how readers can stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.

Cover of Games of Deception: The Tr
Philomel Books

An incredible true story of basketball, from its invention to the sport's debut at the controversial 1936 Olympics in Berlin just before WWII. A fast paced, amazingly well written account of the hidden atrocities at play during the sports, politics, and propaganda that surrounded the American athletes in pre-war Germany.

Cover of Born to Fly: The First Wom
Bijou Karman
Roaring Brook Press

The early days of flight were death defying, thrilling, and awe inspiring - much like the women who took to the skies to test their limits and prove their grit. Steve Sheinkin is an amazing storyteller and has done it again with this suspenseful book about the first women of flight and their air race that captivated the nation.

Cover of They Called Us Enemy
George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and
Steven Scott
Harmony Becker
Top Shelf Productions

A stunning graphic memoir from actor/author/activity George Takei. A recounting of his childhood experience imprisoned in an American concentration camp for those of Japanese descent, this book examines what it means to be an American? Who gets to decide? And when the world is against you, what can one person do?

Cover of We Are Displaced: My Journ
Little Brown and Company

A powerful new book from Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Malala shares her own experiences as an Internally Displaced Person as a young person in Pakistan, but also the stories of other incredible girls she has met on her journeys visiting refugee camps around the world. We Are Displaced shines a light on the international immigration crisis, and the effects it has on so many young people and their hopes and dreams.