This list of new YA nonfiction adaptations was originally published in our YA newsletter, What’s Up in YA. Sign up for it here to get YA news, reviews, deals, and more!
One of the things that I love about Kelly’s coverage here at Book Riot is her commitment to elevating amazing YA nonfiction. As a teen, I was convinced that I hated nonfiction. I can recall precisely one nonfiction title I read in high school (it was for a class), and I found it excruciating to read. And silly me, I just assumed all nonfiction was like that. It didn’t help that most of the nonfiction available to YA audiences when I was a teen were boring-looking research texts or didactic tomes on uninspiring topics (this was when libraries were still stocking titles that teens might use for research papers, before they realized we all were much more comfortable with the internet).
Now, there are so many great nonfiction YA titles out there that I found myself joyfully creating a teen nonfiction section when I still worked at my local library and actually leading teens over there on a frequent basis. Part of the reason for this growth is the exciting development of YA editions of popular nonfiction books. So today I’m excited to highlight three new YA nonfiction editions that are out this spring!
This book is for 12–18 year olds, but honestly? Everyone should read it. It’s an honest and unflinching look at stereotypes and assumptions, deconstructed and explained. You’ll not only find answers to questions that both basic and complex, but you’ll also get background on many issues facing Native communities today and a wonderful list of resources to help you better understand what life is like for a broad spectrum of Native people, who exist and thrive today and shouldn’t be spoken about in the past tense. This is a great companion read to An Indigenous People’s History of the United States for Young People by Jean Mendoza, Debbie Reese, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, because while it’s essential to understand history, it’s also vital that we not forget that Native communities live in the present.
Notes from a Young Black Chef (Adapted for Young Adults) by Kwame Onwuachi, Joshua David Stein
Adapted from the popular memoir of the same name, this book looks at Kwame Onwuachi’s life and his love of food. He was born in New York City and grew up in the Bronx learning to cook from his mom, and he spent time in Nigeria and Louisiana. As a young man, he sold candy on the subway to save enough money to start a catering company, and he opened and closed his own restaurant. He starred on Top Chef, and he confronted the realities of being a young Black chef in a white-dominated food industry. This is a great book about resilience and pursuing your dreams, and it will prove inspiring for any teen reader.
The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos Young Reader’s Edition by Judy Batalion
I love that this young reader’s edition was released simultaneously with the adult edition — usually you have to wait a few months or years! This is the true story of the Jewish women’s resistance in Poland during WWII. These women, many still teenagers, worked to organize the resistance movement, move weapons and people, and sabotaged German operations. Their stories and contributions went largely unacknowledged until now.
If, like me, you thought that nonfiction was boring, I hope that you’ll give any of these three books a chance!