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By Ellen B.

“What could possibly be great about 2020?”, you might ask. These nonfiction titles, for one thing (actually, for 8 things). This collection of nonfiction titles will give you things to do, make you laugh, inspire you, and make you agree that truth can, indeed, be stranger than fiction.

Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It by Jamie Margolin, with a foreword by Greta Thunberg

Jamie Margolin, founder of the climate action organization Zero Hour, speaks from her own experience as a young activist to teens wanting to make a difference in the world. Youth to Power is Margolin’s practical guide on how to get involved.

Once a teen finds their “why”, the reason they believe in a cause and want to take action, they can decide what shape their activism will take. Margolin lists numerous possibilities, from letter writing and social media campaigns, to planning events or practicing peaceful, civil disobedience. A teen can join existing groups or form their own community to work for a cause. At the end of each chapter, Margolin interviews other youth activists to gain their insights.

Today’s youth have power, Margolin insists, and they can use this book to find their voice and bring about change in the world. 

Free Lunch by Rex Ogle

In many ways, Rex Ogle’s autobiography is a typical coming of age story. Rex is nervously looking forward to his first year in middle school: meeting new teachers, seeing old friends, and choosing extracurricular activities. Middle school can be brutal for anyone, but his family’s poverty makes life so much harder. And to top it all off, Rex feels that everybody knows his business, because every day he has to tell the lunch lady that he is on the free lunch program. 

Rex’s anger – at his family, his teachers, rich classmates, the world in general, is threatening to overwhelm him. Ogle writes his story to let kids know that they are not alone, and to encourage them to stay strong and never give up hope. 

It’s a Numbers Game! Basketball: The Math Behind the Perfect Pass, the Buzzer-Beating Bank Shot, and So Much More! by James Buckley, Jr., with a foreword by Kobe Bryant. 

Ever wonder why the shot clock is 24 seconds long, what the dimensions of a basketball court are, or how many “bumps” are on the surface of a basketball? This book explains it all, while showing the math behind the sport. The full-color photos of NBA, WNBA, and  NCAA  star players make the action come alive! 

You can sit and read for hours about the geometry, science, and technology of the sport. Then you’ll want to get up and test your skills in the “Try This” section at the end of every chapter. 

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

On June 23, 2018, the beginning of the monsoon season in northern Thailand, 2 soccer players, ages 11-16, and their coach entered Tham Luang Nang Non, the Cave of the Sleeping Lady, near the town of  Mae Sai in Northern Thailand. In a few hours, the caverns and narrow passageways that had been dry on the hike had suddenly filled with murky and swiftly moving water. 

The team didn’t come out for 18 days. They had clean water, but no food. 

This is the story of how an international rescue team came together to work with thousands of Thai people to find the boys and get any survivors out before the next storms came. Working against time, a decision was made: the boys must dive through the water to be rescued. 

Even though the title of the book is a spoiler for what happened, reading about this rescue will have you holding your breath! 

The Hero’s Closet: Sewing for Cosplay and Costuming by Gillian Conahan

Hero’s Closet  is for both beginning and advanced cosplayers who:

  1. Want more control over the design of their costume
  2. Want something unique that’s not found in stores
  3. Want to save money

After short tutorials on planning your costume, design elements used in cosplay, and sewing basics, Conahan starts with patterns for 11 basic pieces that can combine to build a character. A beginner will do well with these basic patterns, and advanced sewists are encouraged to combine pattern elements and add embellishments. Conahan’s books will help you design a costume that reflects your imagination and love of all things cosplay! 

Grand Theft Horse by G. Neri, illustrated by Corban Wilkin  

On Christmas Eve, 2004, Gail Ruffu stole her own horse from Hollywood Park racetrack. Why? To save its life. 

Ruffu had entered into an agreement with a lawyer and his associates to take partial ownership of Urgent Envoy, and train the horse for racing. But Ruffu was an unconventional trainer, who used no drugs and believed that the humane treatment of racehorses would have better results. The lawyer grew impatient, fired Ruffu, and began racing the horse, which soon became injured. To save this horse, Ruffu became a wanted criminal, lost her job and her trainer’s license, but it was all worth it to stand up for the humane treatment of racehorses. 

Radium Girls: The Scary but True Story about the Poison that Made People Glow in the Dark Young Reader’s Edition, by Kate Moore. 

Or The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

Amid the excitement of the early twentieth century, hundreds of young women spend their days hard at work painting watch dials with glow-in-the-dark radium paint. The painters consider themselves lucky—until they start suffering from a mysterious illness. As the corporations try to cover up a shocking secret, these shining girls suddenly find themselves at the center of a deadly scandal. Description from NoveList.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

A history of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, adapted from the National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning (NoveList).

Kendi wrote the book for adults, but asked Reynolds to provide a “remix” of the “not history history book” in a style for teens that is more like a conversation than a history lecture.

Still don’t see anything that sparks your interest? Try these websites for notable and award-winning nonfiction titles:

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) compiles lists of both fiction and nonfiction every year. It’s a good place to start. 

YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction 2020 Award

Yalsa’s Outstanding Books for the College Bound. You don’t have to be going to college to read these fiction and nonfiction titles. The list is divided into themes, such as Science and Technology, Arts and Humanities or Social Sciences.

Still searching? Try their Book Finder Database for more than 4,000 Books, audiobooks, and films! 

Ellen B.

Ellen B.


With 8 locations throughout Vanderburgh County, EVPL is ready to discover, explore, and connect WITH you! We encourage you to uncover new things, revisit old favorites, and to engage with us along the way.

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