Betsy recently wrote in with this question:
I’m looking for some good non-fiction titles about “People and Places That Interest Us” for a 7th grade reading unit at my school. I plan to introduce Three Cups of Tea and Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. Do you have any other recommendations for page turners that 13 year olds would enjoy? My students are, by and large, strong readers. I usually book talk about 6 or 7 titles each month.
Garth writes: Most of us at The Millions are passionate amateurs, rather than experts. However, we boast an asset many experts don’t: the collective wisdom of you, our audience. We weren’t sure we were qualified to answer this Book Question on our own, so we turned to Cynthia Oakes, a middle school librarian at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a Millions reader, and (not incidentally) my mother-in-law. You may remember her from our 2007 Harry Potter interview. Here are the titles she suggested, “off the top of her head”:
- Rocket Boys: A Memoir by Homer Hickam
- Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet
- Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery by Russell Freedman (and really, anything by him…)
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
- Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
- Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
- Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
- Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration during World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference by Joanne Oppenhein (Well, of course I’d include this!)
- The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition by Caroline Alexander
- Counting Coup: A True Story of Basketball and Honor on the Little Big Horn by Larry Colton
- Men of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold by Michael Benavev
Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji Li Jiang
If you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments. Thanks for the question Betsy and thanks for the help Cynthia!