Best New Nonfiction at CA Library, Part 1

All this year I have been highlighting new nonfiction titles as they have arrived and been added to the CA Library collection, titles that support the Common Core State Standard’s emphasis on informational texts:

“Fulfilling the Standards for 6–12 ELA requires much greater attention to a specific category of informational text — literary nonfiction — than has been traditional. Because the ELA classroom must focus on literature as well as literary nonfiction, a great deal of informational reading in grades 6–12 must take place in other classes” — Key Design Considerations

You can revisit these earlier CA Library blog posts here — May 14, April 24, February 15 and January 26.

In this post, I wanted to highlight some of the best nonfiction books published recently that have been added to the collection, titles that have received starred reviews in one or more of the book review sources I use regularly — School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, etc.

This list of the best nonfiction would be far too long for a single blog post — this is Part 1, a look at books for a teen audience. Part 2 will focus on the best nonfiction for adults available at CA Library.

American History

  • Bomb: The Race To Build And Steal The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) — “While the historical information and hard facts presented here will likely be new to the intended audience, they in no way overwhelm readers or detract from the thoroughly researched, well-documented account. It reads like an international spy thriller.” — School Library Journal
  • Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln And The Dawn Of Liberty by Tonya Bolden (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013) — In addition to presenting the text of the Emancipation Proclamation, Bolden comments on its specific terms and its immediate and long-term effects. [T]he language soars, powerfully communicating not just the facts about the Emancipation Proclamation but its meaning for those who cared most passionately.” — Booklist
  • Faces From The Past: Forgotten People Of North America by James M. Deem (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012) — “Clear prose, pleasing layout, and crisp photographs combined with subject matter rarely explored in history books make this book an excellent choice for most collections.” — School Library Journal
  • Harriet Tubman And The Underground Railroad by David A. Adler (Holiday House, 2013) — “Teachers may use this book to teach lessons on researching: Adler scrupulously notes where historians disagree…sources each direct quote, and includes an extensive index and a selected bibliography.” — School Library Journal
  • Master Of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover And America In The Age Of Lies by Marc Aronson (Candlewick Press, 2012) — “[This] book does an excellent job of creating parallels between America’s anticommunist efforts and the current fight against terrorism as it questions the price of security and the media’s roles in keeping secrets.” — Publishers Weekly

Civil Rights

  • Miles To Go For Freedom: Segregation & Civil Rights In The Jim Crow Years by Linda Barrett Osborne (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2012) — “A handsome, highly readable overview of African American history, focusing here on both the South and the North during the late nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century. A must for classroom discussion and research.” — Booklist
  • To The Mountaintop!: My Journey Through The Civil Rights Movement by Charlayne Hunter-Gault (Roaring Brook Press, 2012) — “This powerful complement to the civil rights canon draws a compelling line from the beginnings of the movement to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which opened the door to the long corridor that led to the White House in January 2009.” — Booklist
  • We’ve Got A Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson (Peachtree, 2012) — This chronicle of a pivotal chapter of the civil rights movement weaves together the stories of four black children in Birmingham, Ala., who were among some 4,000 who boycotted school to participate in a march to protest segregation. The most compelling component is Levinson’s dramatic re-creation of the courageous children’s crusade and the change it helped bring about in the face of widespread prejudice and brutality.” — Publishers Weekly

Global Studies

  • Iceberg, Right Ahead!: The Tragedy Of The Titanic by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson (Twenty-First Century Books, 2012) — “Illustrated mainly with period photos, this handsome, clearly written book is a solid resource for the learning about the Titanic 100 years later.” — Booklist
  • Kids Of Kabul: Living Bravely Through A Never-Ending War by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2012) — “The 27 young people, ages 10-17, whom Ellis interviewed in Kabul and quotes in this volume, will grab readers’ hearts with the bravery of their hope, their ability to imagine better times, and their excitement in learning. A powerful discussion starter on both current events and timeless issues of self-definition.” — Booklist
  • Outcasts United: The Story Of A Refugee Soccer Team That Changed A Town by Warren St. John (Delacorte Press, 2012) — “Exciting youth soccer action blends with politics in this story of refugee kids from across the world, including Kosovo, Mozambique, Liberia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Sudan, who find home in the small town of Clarkston, Georgia.” — Booklist
  • The War To End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman (Clarion, 2013) — “Elegantly written and filled with vivid, powerful photographs, this masterful work demands a spot in every collection.” — School Library Journal
  • The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming A Man Of Compassion And Courage by Eric Greitens (Houghton Mifflin, 2012) — “A former Navy SEAL describes his journey from aiding victims of violence to protecting people and, now, living a life of service. Adapted from the adult title The Heart and the Fist, this volume has been rearranged, shortened, and streamlined in ways sure to appeal its new audience.” — School Library Journal


  • Food: The New Gold by Kathlyn Gay (Twenty-First Century Books, 2013) — “A solid introduction to the science, politics, and social concerns surrounding food and its production.” — School Library Journal
  • Moonbird: A Year On The Wind With The Great Survivor B95 by Phillip M. Hoose (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012) — “Moonbird is a nickname scientists have given to a small Eastern shorebird known for both his unusually long life and his enormously long annual migration. This deeply researched, engaging account is a substantial and well-designed package of information illustrated with handsome color photographs, ample maps, appended descriptions of the conservation work, and thorough source notes.” — School Library Journal
  • Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man And The Paleoamerican World by Sally M. Walker (Carolrhoda Books, 2012) — “This detailed study of the discovery and forensic evaluation of the skeleton dubbed “Kennewick Man” puts forensic TV shows to shame. Lucid writing, fine scientific explanations, and attractive bookmaking make this a winner.” — School Library Journal
  • Wild Horse Scientists by Kay Frydenborg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) — “This engaging volume from the Scientists in the Field series looks at the wild horses living in Maryland’s Assateague Island National Seashore and introduces two scientists whose work has made a significant difference in their lives.” — Booklist


  • Bookmarked: Teen Essays on Life and Literature From Tolkien To Twilight, edited by Ann Camacho (Free Spirit, 2012) — “A high-school English teacher, Camacho has gathered more than four-dozen essays from young people many of them college students or recent graduates reflecting on their lives, their pasts, their future prospects, and their personal philosophies.” — Booklist
  • Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters To Their Teen Selves, edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally (Zest Books, 2012) — “Hindsight is entirely 20/20 in this compendium of letters written by young adult authors to their teenage selves…a winning collection for both teens and former teens, alike.” — School Library Journal
  • Just Write: Here’s How by Walter Dean Myers (HarperCollins, 2012) — “Myers uses the same honest and straightforward language that characterizes his young adult fiction to share his ideas about why and how he writes. His words sum up his philosophy and they characterize the knowledge that he imparts throughout this useful guide.” — School Library Journal
  • The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes To Their Younger Selves, edited by Sarah Moon (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2012) — In a thoughtful, humorous, and moving collection of letters and comics, 64 authors and artists tell ‘their younger selves what they could do to make their lives a little better, a little lighter’.” — Publishers Weekly


  • Diego Rivera: An Artist For The People by Susan Goldman Rubin (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013) — “Rivera’s life is presented through the lens of his art, making his love of Mexico and traditional Mexican art palpable and his search for his own artistic style an intriguing journey…a classy, visually pleasing and interesting read.” — School Library Journal


  • Money In Sports by Nick Hunter (Heinemann Library, 2012) — “Although many youth nonfiction books use sports as a high-interest hook for reluctant readers, this entry in the new Ethics of Sports series takes a different tack by challenging readers to think about one of the most complex and pressing issues, along with drugs, in the modern sports world.” — Booklist
  • Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal (Feiwel & Friends, 2012) — “Framing her work around the themes of a lauded commencement speech that ‘technology rock star’ Jobs delivered to Stanford University’s class of 2005, Blumenthal crafts an insightful, balanced portrait of the enigmatic man whose life was cut short by illness in 2011.” — Publishers Weekly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *