ALA Annual 2014: Stranger Than Fiction: Reader’s Advisory for Nonfiction

One of best programs I attended at the recent ALA Annual Conference in alaconfVegas was the very popular session on Monday afternoon presented by Jennie Rothschild and Angela Frederick called Stranger Than Fiction: Reader’s Advisory for Nonfiction.

It seems like everyone’s talking about nonfiction these days because of the emphasis on the Common Core. Rothschild and Frederick suggested a large number of interesting and appealing nonfiction titles for teens, many from YALSA’s award and selection lists like the Alex Award, Excellence in Nonfiction Award, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and Outstanding Books for the College Bound. They also had a lot of suggestions for great nonfiction read-alikes for popular fiction titles.

The books they recommended are notable for their interesting subject areas that can be read for pleasure, not just for assignments; have appealing layout/style or design, and, despite that so many are published for adults, still have great teen appeal. Rothschild noted that since there isn’t a lot of teen nonfiction published compared to children’s and adult, teens are used to reading up or down. Many of the nonfiction titles are notable for their narrative style that reads like fiction and the fact that they complement so many popular fiction books.

Here are some of the highlights:

Copy of BombSubject read-alikes for Bomb: The Race to Build –And Steal –The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (YALSA 2013 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, 2013 Sibert Award Winner, 2013 Newbery Honor Winner; National-book-award-finalist for Young People’s Literature):

 

 

  • The Ultimate Weapon: The Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb by Edward T. Sullivan (YA)
  • Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm, graphic novel (adults and older teens)
  • The Radioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein (adult)
  • The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Keiran (adult)

Narrative-style read-alikes:

Continue reading ALA Annual 2014: Stranger Than Fiction: Reader’s Advisory for Nonfiction

What YA Lit Would George Washington Read?

photoWhen you think of George Washington, you might think of his false teeth, or the quote attributed to him about never telling a lie, or chopping down that cherry tree. As improbable as those last two things are, it is true that he was a man of integrity who avoided scandal. So, it might surprise some of you to know that he was a Spymaster during the Revolutionary War. The American spy network in operation during the war was called the Culper Spy Ring and they provided Washington with information on the movements of the British troops. The spies in this network were protected by having pseudonyms, and were identified by numbers (Washington’s was 711) rather than names. They even used invisible ink to conceal their messages.

In honor of Presidents’ Day, originally held on the anniversary of George Washington’s birthday (February 22) but in 1971 moved to the third Monday in February, I thought I would highlight some YA books that I think George would have really enjoyed reading.

To assist him in his role as Spymaster, Washington might have found this book useful:

  • Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing by Paul B. Janeczko (Editor), Jenna Lareau9780763629724 (Illustrator) (2004) Janeczko gives middle grade aspiring codemakers and codebreakers everything they need for staging their own information exchanges–terminology; instructions for making simple devices; concrete advice (assemble a “spy toolkit,” using film-canister “vials” to store homemade invisible ink); and plenty of practice activities with answers at the back of the book accompanied by fascinating historical anecdotes and nice illustrations by LaReau. Continue reading What YA Lit Would George Washington Read?