Adapted For Young Readers: 15 Great Adaptations

A popular trend in book publishing is adaptations — notable adult titles rewritten to make them more appealing and accessible to younger readers. Sometimes the original author writes the adaptation, and sometimes it is left to collaborators. Regardless, the intent is to make the material available to a wider audience. Here are some recent YA adaptations in the CA Library collection:

Braiding sweetgrass for young adults : indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teachings of plants Braiding Sweetgrass For Young Adults: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, And The Teachings Of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, adapted by Monique Gray Smith — Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass. Adapted for young adults by Monique Gray Smith, this new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us. “A book that is entirely in a class of its own, this belongs in every collection for teens” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

Caste : the origins of our discontents : adapted for young adults Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson — Caste is not only about race or class; it is about power — which groups have it and which do not. Isabel Wilkerson explores historical social hierarchies, including those in India and Nazi Germany, and explains how perpetuating these rankings dehumanizes vast sections of society. “Compelling and accessible for a younger generation energized to build a better world” (Kirkus Reviews). Get the Audiobook

Devotion : an epic story of heroism and friendship Devotion: An Epic Story Of Heroism And Friendship by Adam Makos — A young adult adaptation of the national bestseller that details the true story of two Navy pilots from divergent racial and economic backgrounds who forge a deep friendship during the Korean War as they face extraordinary circumstances. “A memorable story of courage and devotion during America’s ‘forgotten war’, appended with numerous photographs” (Booklist). Get the Audiobook

Facing the mountain : a true story of Japanese American heroes in World War II Facing The Mountain: A True Story Of Japanese American Heroes In World War II by Daniel James Brown — This remarkable true story, resistance history and courtroom drama follows three courageous Japanese American soldiers as they fought for the US during WWII as part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team only to face discrimination at home. “A propulsive narrative, impressive back matter, impeccable research, and primary source material make this an eye-opening story” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

Fighting in a world on fire : the next generation's guide to protecting the climate and saving our future Fighting In A World On Fire: The Next Generation’s Guide To Protecting The Climate And Saving Our Future by Andreas Malm, adapted by Jimmy Whipps and Llewyn Whipps — An argument for bold action to stop climate change and a guide to successful activism, adapted for young people from climate expert Andreas Malm’s best-selling book How to Blow Up a Pipeline. “This book has two goals: to provoke strong reactions and to create committed activists. Readers will find much to think about” (Booklist).

In harm's way : the sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the story of its survivors In Harm’s Way: The Sinking Of The USS Indianapolis And The Story Of Its Survivors by Doug Stanton and Michael J. Tougias — The story of the USS Indianapolis, a battle cruiser torpedoed in the South Pacific by a Japanese submarine on July 30, 1945, shortly after delivering parts of the atom bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima, including the heroic struggles of sailors who survived the blast to stay alive in the sea for nearly five days before help arrived. “A riveting, well-researched young readers’ adaptation of Stanton’s 2001 original. Authentic detail and a brisk pace make this real-life adventure a page-turner” (Kirkus Reviews).

The heartbeat of Wounded Knee : life in Native America The Heartbeat Of Wounded Knee: Life In Native America by David Treuer, adapted by Sheila Keenan — Adapted for young adults from the adult nonfiction book of the same name, this powerful story of resilience and reinvention looks at Native American culture as it exists today — and the fight to preserve its languages and traditions. “The history related here is necessary for all Americans to understand, and Treuer’s personalized accounting ensures that readers will learn it with both their minds and hearts” (Booklist). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

Learning to be wild : how animals achieve peace, create beauty, and raise families Learning To Be Wild: How Animals Achieve Peace, Create Beauty, And Raise Families by Carl Safina — A young readers adaptation of Safina’s notable book Becoming Wild that explores community, culture, and belonging through the lives of chimpanzees, macaws, and sperm whales. “A well-crafted adaptation offering an extraordinary look at animal worlds” (Kirkus Reviews). Get the eBook

A mighty long way : my journey to justice at Little Rock Central High School A Mighty Long Way: My Journey To Justice At Little Rock Central High School by Carlotta Walls LaNier with Lisa Frazier Page — A young readers adaptation of the personal account of the nation’s most famous school integration recounts the author’s decision to attend Little Rock’s all-white Central High and describes how subsequent events affected her family’s beliefs about dedication, perseverance, and sacrifice. “A must-purchase for nonfiction collections and required reading for U.S. history classes” (School Library Journal). Get the Audiobook

Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X : the fatal friendship Muhammad Ali And Malcolm X: The Fatal Friendship by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith, adapted by Margeaux Weston — Freshly adapted for young readers, this in-depth portrait showcases the complex bond between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, revealing how Malcolm aided in molding Cassius Clay into Muhammad Ali and helped him become an international symbol of Black pride and Black independence. “The tenor and tone of the period clearly come through, thanks to the extensive research and engaging prose. An important volume for understanding a volatile time in U.S. history” (Kirkus Reviews).

A quantum life : my unlikely journey from the street to the stars A Quantum Life: My Unlikely Journey From The Street To The Stars by Hakeem Oluseyi and Joshua Horwitz — A NASA astrophysicist narrates his improbable journey from an impoverished childhood and an adolescence mired in drugs and crime to the nation’s top physics PhD program at Stanford in this inspiring coming-of-age memoir. “Oluseyi’s unflinching honesty and love of science, and the ever-present threat of a tragic end, will keep readers riveted” (Booklist). Get the eBook

Songs of America : patriotism, protest, and the music that made a nation Songs Of America: Patriotism, Protest, And The Music That Made A Nation by Jon Meacham & Tim McGraw — A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Grammy Award-winning artist come together to present the songs of patriotism and protest that gave voice to the people who have helped move the country forward, seeking to fulfill America’s destiny as the land of liberty and justice for all. “Will appeal to readers interested in U.S. and social justice history” (Booklist).

The sum of us : how racism hurts everyone The Sum Of Us: How Racism Hurts Everyone by Heather McGhee — This book is a call to action. McGhee examines how damaging racism is, not only to people of color but also to white people. She offers hope and real solutions so we can all prosper. An expert in economic policy, McGhee draws lessons both from her work at a think tank and from her travels around the country talking to everyday Americans fighting for a more just and inclusive society. “Concisely and bitingly written with broad appeal and usefulness to researchers and general readers alike” (School Library Journal). Get the eBook | Get the Audiobook

The uninhabitable earth : life after warming The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells — An exploration of the devastating effects of global warming — current and future — adapted for young adults from the New York Times bestseller. This is not only an assessment on how the future will look to those living through it, but also a dire overview and an impassioned and hopeful call to action to change the trajectory while there is still time. “Heavy going, both in content and prose style, but filled with critical content” (Kirkus Reviews). Get the Audiobook

What it's like to be a bird : from flying to nesting, eating to singing-what birds are doing and why What It’s Like To Be A Bird: From Flying To Nesting, Eating To Singing-What Birds Are Doing And Why by written and illustrated by David Allen Sibley — Featuring more than 300 full-color illustrations, this fascinating foray into the world of birds discusses their essential role in our ecosystem and their connection to us, helping readers gain a broader appreciation for our extraordinary feathered friends. “A superior volume of well-researched facts and figures; a must-have for young birders” (School Library Journal).

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