Part One of young adult books focusing on overcoming adversity was focused on fiction. Now it is time to focus on nonfiction. I find it more difficult to get teens to read a nonfiction of a hardship, I think because they view it as boring or like school work whereas fiction offers an escape. However, biographies are always an interest even if the student does not know much about the person. They like the personal story. For similar reasons as to why teens choose fiction based on plot or character traits, biographies offer details of a person’s life and reading offers a connection to that person and their situation.
Similarly with fiction, reading about people who face struggles or adversity in a memoir or nonfiction will offer insight to the reader. With insight comes understanding and compassion. Nonfiction also gives credible information in a respectful, actual representation as long as the books are published by a respectable source. An added bonus is many nonfiction books provide notes, glossary of definitions, online resources, and where to look for more information. Young adult nonfiction that covers illness, biographies of a personal struggle, and social justice provide accurate information on issues that many readers do not understand or have experienced.
Out of Order: Young Adult Manual of Mental Illness and Recovery by Dale Bick Carlson (2013)
A manual that addresses what is mental illness, what are symptoms, how does one cope with it, and how can friends help friends cope. Personality disorders, learning problems, addictions (ranging in severity from substance abuse to TV or shopping) and treatment and recovery options are also mentioned. Each topic is given a clear definition, statistics on the number of those affected, symptoms, and coping mechanisms – whether personally or professionally. Screening tests, mental disorder dictionary, online resources and hotlines, and a young adult reading list are provided.
The Courage to Compete: Living With Cerebral Palsy and Following My Dreams by Abbey Curran (2015)
Abbey Curran was the first contestant with a disability to win a major beauty pageant when she was crowned Miss Iowa, and later competed in Miss USA. She offers encouragement for girls to try for their dreams, which she has turned into a business. Curran began the Miss You Can Do It, a national nonprofit pageant for girls and women with special needs and challenges, which became the subject of an HBO documentary with the same name.
Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton, Sheryl Berk, and Rick Bundschuh (2006)
Bethany Hamilton was already respected as a young surfer before the shark attack that took her left arm. Following the attack, and as she relearned how to surf, her personal determination and faith led her to not only overcome the physical struggles, but also get back on the board.