Non-Fiction: Just the Facts
Here’s a list of the top ten non-fiction books I’ve read with or recommended to my junior high school students. The kids have told me they loved them.
Ayer, Eleanor. Parallel Journeys. Aladdin, 2000.
The stories of two WWII youths, one a German Jew and the other a Hitler Youth, and how each of them viewed the world of their time. The text is excerpted from their published memoirs.
Barron, Tom. To Walk in Wilderness. Westcliffe Publishers, 1993.
A photo journal accompanied by poetry and journal entries about a month-long journey into the Colorado mountain wilds.
Crowe, Chris. Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case. Dial, 2003.
While researching a book about Mildred D. Taylor, Crowe first learned about Till. Unable to rest without this story being told, the author wrote a children’s novel, Mississippi Trial 1955, the story of a white boy who becomes interested in the trial. But more needed to be explained and this non-fiction book tells the rest.
Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl. Pocket, 1990.
Everyone should read Anne’s entire diary at least once in their life. There is so much more here than what the play gives students, and understanding the fear of oppression and those who fight for right in the world is just as important today as it was during WWII.
Hickam, Homer. October Sky: A Memoir. Dell, 1999. (also known as Rocket Boys)
Inspired by Werner von Braun and his Cape Canaveral team, 14-year-old Homer Hickam decided in 1957 to build his own rockets. They were his ticket out of Coalwood, West Virginia, a mining town that everyone knew was dying--everyone except Sonny's father, the mine superintendent and a company man so dedicated that his family rarely saw him. A beautiful movie, but even more beautiful memoir.
King, Stephen. On Writing. Pocket, 2002.
A must for any student who would like to improve writing skills. A former English teacher and Best-Selling author, King takes readers through his personal history as well as giving specific advice on writing marketable pieces.
Paulsen, Gary. Caught by the Sea: My Life on Boats. Laurel-Leaf, 2003.
Through this book, fans will enjoy learning about his attraction to the sea and how Paulsen came to live on the sloop Felicity where he wrote the novel Brian=s Winter. The danger he has experienced is real and makes for a great non-fiction read.
Paulsen, Gary. How Angel Peterson Got His Name. Yearling, 2004.
Although Paulsen’s non-fiction is not always squeeky clean, readers will identify with the short pieces in this book as Paulsen recounts his 13th year "of wonderful madness" and extreme sports of the day when he and his friends tried to shoot a waterfall in a barrel, break the world record for speed on skis, hang glide with an Army surplus parachute, and perform other dare-devilish stunts.
Sparks, Dr. Beatrice. Annie's Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager. Avon, 2004.
Annie, 14, falls in love with wealthy 16-year-old Danny, who takes her to drinking parties, rapes her, then becomes physically and emotionally abusive. Then Annie discovers she is pregnant and must decide what to do.
Ten Boom, Corrie. The Hiding Place. Bantam, 1984.
The true story about the Ten Boom family who hid Jews during WWII and then got sent to a concentration camp themselves.