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Browsable Nonfiction for Teens

2014 June 20
by Anna Tschetter
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With the Common Core and it’s emphasis on nonfiction throughout all subjects being adopted across much of the country, nonfiction seems to be on everyone’s mind. In a lot of ways, I think it’s a great opportunity for libraries and schools to more robustly and interestingly use nonfiction. I’ve recently begun to really enjoy nonfiction – especially history, exploration, and stories of true survival – and I’m glad that we are making strides to promote nonfiction to teens.

Just a handful of titles the teens at my library have looked at recently.

Just a handful of titles the teens at my library have looked at recently.

This is not really the type of nonfiction I’m going to talk about today. The books I’m talking about may not check out the most often from the library, or they may not be the ones you’d necessarily pick up in the subject sections of your favorite bookstore. They may also be unlikely to win a Sibert medal. But this doesn’t mean that they aren’t great books, it just means that they are a different kind of book.

I’m talking about browsable, high-interest nonfiction. These are the type of books that you can page through for a few minutes, show a funny picture to your friends, and then go on  with your day. You may check it out, or you may just look at it when you go to the library.

At my library, some nonfiction subjects that seem to get used a lot – that aren’t Common Core material – are Minecraft books (these definitely get checked out), music, cosplay, fandom related books like Doctor Who or Hunger Games materials, and crafts. Some teens also like to look through the books about music and dating. Here are some titles used by teens recently and I think are definitely work a look.

Rookie Yearbook One and TwoThese editions collect some of the content from Tavi Gevinson’s brilliant rookie website. Focused on girls, indie, DIY, and alternative cultures there are some great essays, photoshoots, and songs lists in here. Plus, some of the books have goodies like stickers or tear out Tarot cards!

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die : The title says it all really, but this books is really a primer of popular music history from the 1950s on. Definitely an interesting page turner and might help a teen find a new band or type of music!

craft_a_dayCraft-a-DayThis is just a good example of a nice teen craft book that isn’t too hard or complicated. The author does a series of similar projects all with different themes for each week of the year. There is a whale week, a pumpkin week, fox week, and you learn to make little stuffed animals, cake topper, cards, and more.

The Doctor Who Character Encyclopedia and other Doctor Who books are popular at my library. We are doing a fandom-themed summer reading program and I know these will get used a lot. It’s fun to look through and be reminded of all of your favorite episodes and characters!

Finally, books about cosplay are always good for a browse. I like 1000 Incredible Costume & Cosplay Ideas and the Cosplay Fever books. Both show a wide range cosplayers from anime, manga, movies, books, video games, and even original creations. I’ve overheard teens playing a “guess which show/book/movie this cosplay is from” game and it’s great to see them interacting that way with the materials.

So, what you do you think? What are some of your favorite nonfiction books for browse through?

-Anna Tschetter, currently reading All the Truth that’s in Me by Julie Berry

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