#FridayReads: Hot Non-fiction for High School Readers

I still have non-readers. We are ending the ninth week of school, and usually by this time each fall, my Hold Outs experience a shift. They start reading. I haven’t pinpointed exact reasons for the resistance this year — I think I’m doing as many book talks, conferring sessions, and cheerleading-moments-about-books that I have in the past, but something is up with a good number of my students.. They just do not want to read.

I asked Bryan about his reading yesterday. He said, “I only read when I have to.”

“What can I do to help you want to read?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

This is where it gets tough. I get to be a magician and a mind reader.

Or, I just need to know books and keep talking about them. I just need to keep encouraging my students to read and surround them with books they will find interesting.

A few weeks ago, Jackie wrote Top Books for Reluctant High School Readers, and I remembered Ready Player One, Gone Girl, and Perks of Being a Wallflower. I need to book talk those!

About two months ago, I wrote about the novels-in-verse I got for my classroom. Many of my students who had never read a book have read two, three, and four of those titles now.

I know many boys will read non-fiction when they won’t read “make believe.” Seems it’s time for an infusion of hot non-fiction books that might add some intrigue to my classroom bookshelves. I need books that students like Bryan will want to read.teen_school_boys_reading

I posed this question to my writing partners:

What are the hottest non-fiction titles in your classroom library?

Here’s our master list:

Jackie’s List

Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides

I’m Staying with my Boys by Jim Proser

Jarhead by Anthony Swofford

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood by Julie Gregory

The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea

Hellhound on His Trail by Hampton Sides

Kick Me by Paul Feig

Shana’s List

Pretty Little Killers by Daleen Berry (two girls murdered their best friend at the other high school in our county…kids cannot put this book down)

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink (about Katrina; pairs well with Zeitoun)

Missoula by Jon Krakauer

…anything by the great sportswriter John Feinstein (The Punch, Next Man Up, A Season on the Brink)

Stiff by Mary Roach

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty (similar to Stiff; about working in a crematory)

…my War shelf, featuring Lone Survivor, American Sniper, Redeployment, or any other autobiography of a soldier

Erika’s List

Lucky by Alice Sebold (account of her rape and healing)

The Prisoner’s Wife &  Something Like Beautiful: One Single Mother’s Story  both by asha bandele

No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row by Susan Kuklin

Inside: Life Behind Bars in America by Michael G. Santos

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison by Piper Kerman

Yummy by G.Neri (graphic novel based on a true story)

Shaq Talks Back by Shaquille O’Neal

Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (Adult and YA)

A Child Called It, The Lost Boy, The Privilege of Youth, A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer (four part series, but each piece can be read independently)

Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Journey to Reunite with his Mother  by Sonia Nazario

The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise & The Bond by Sampson Davis and George Jenkins

Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany by Hans J. Massaquoi

Girlbomb: A Halfway Homeless Memoir & Have You Found Her by Janice Erlbaum

Amy’s List

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

Little Princes by Conor Grennan

Letters to My Young Brother by Harper Hill

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo

American Sniper by Chris Kyle

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Exactly as I Am by Shaun Robinson

The Good Soldiers by David Finkel

Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Journey to Reunite with his Mother  by Sonia Nazario

Life without Limits by Nick Vujicic

Do you know of any titles we left out?

©Amy Rasmussen, 2011 – 2015


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8 thoughts on “#FridayReads: Hot Non-fiction for High School Readers

  1. […] leader, teachers must be well versed in a variety of genres to do their jobs well:  young adult, nonfiction, and even the classics.  But what about […]


  2. marshapelletier November 28, 2015 at 3:54 pm Reply

    Here are a few of my top non-fiction check-outs:
    Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissinger
    Black Mass, by Lehr & O’Neill
    Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand
    The Crossroads of Should and Must, by Elle Luna

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amy November 28, 2015 at 4:10 pm Reply

      Thanks for sharing. You’ve added to my TRN list


  3. lpdeal November 2, 2015 at 3:06 pm Reply

    These are great suggestions! A few of my chronic book-abandoners do prefer non-fiction to fiction, so I’m always looking for new options. American Sniper and No Easy Day are two that are always checked out, along with And All Things Kardashian by Kris Jenner.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pat Delzell October 30, 2015 at 9:02 am Reply

    No Excuses by Kyle Maynard!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amy October 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm Reply

      I keep hearing about this book, Pat. Thank you for the suggestion.


  5. Gary Anderson October 30, 2015 at 8:56 am Reply

    Great lists! Can I add a few more?

    Half a Life by Darin Strauss
    My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
    Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
    Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

    Luis Alberto Urrea’s novel Into the Beautiful North is popular right now on our campus, and it might be a good next-read for Jackie’s students reading The Devil’s Highway.

    Columbine is one of the most popular books with my students, fiction or nonfiction. (My daughter, who goes to a different school, has had it assigned twice.) One of my favorite rebel moments was bringing Dave Cullen to our school’s Writers Week while my principal was working to block approval of adding Columbine to our district’s curriculum. She successfully blocked it, and I successfully brought the author to our school, which resulted in hundreds of kids reading a book that was not allowed in the curriculum.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amy October 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm Reply

      Oh, I love your attitude, Gary! Whatever it takes to get young people reading. Awesome. Thank you for adding titles to this list. Just so happens I’ve got some grant money burning a hole, so now I know what to purchase. I appreciate you!


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