Nonfiction

Click on a grade below to see a list of suggested nonfiction books for that level.

New Nonfiction

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Reading Level: Grades 2 - 5

When Sylvia's family moved to a new town in California, her aunt took her and her brothers along with her cousins to register for school. The school secretary gave enrollment forms to her two light skinned, light haired cousins, but informed Sylvia and her brothers that they would have to attend the Mexican school. After getting the runaround from every branch of the local government in a town where it was not unusual to see signs that read, "No dogs or Mexicans allowed" Sylvia's father decided the only thing to do was sue the Westminster School District to prove that segregation was unfair; a point that had to be proven seven years later by the more famous Brown vs. The Board of Education case.

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Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox

Reading Level: Grades K - 4

Elizabeth the elephant seal lived in a park in the middle of a busy city. The residents all loved her, but drivers did not because she had a tendency to take naps in the middle of the road. Eventually the government decided that Elizabeth needed to be relocated to an elephant seal colony well away from the city where she would be happy. However, Elizabeth had a different opinion about what would make her happy.

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The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheikin

Reading Level: Ages 10 - 14

On July 17, 1944, an explosion at the Port Chicago naval base in California killed over 300 people and sank two ships.  All the men loading bombs and ammunition onto ships were black.  All supervising officers were white.  Black sailors who had never received proper training in the handling of munitions were afraid and refused to go back to work on the docks.  Some gave in under pressure from the navy until only 50 men held fast.  They were brought up on charges of mutiny, a charge that could mean the death penalty.  Sheinkin has crafted another book that brings history to life.  You'll be outraged, but you'll cheer for 50 new heroes in the fight for equal rights.

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Enrique's Journey: The True Story of a Boy Determined to Reunite with His Mother by Sonia Nazario

Reading Level: grade 7 & up

Pulitzer Prize winning author, Sonia Nazario had adapted her adult book for teens.  It's the story of sixteen-year-old Enrique whose mother left her children in Honduras to come to the U.S. 12 years earlier with the promise she would return. When she doesn't, Enrique decides he will go to his mother.  The journey is fraught with danger as he rides the tops of trains while hiding from the authorities, thugs, and bandits.  Enrique's journeys across Central America and Mexico are a study in determination and the strength of love.  His story will give readers a new perspective on illegal immigration and some things to think about.  WARNING;  Nazario does not gloss over beatings, rapes, maimings, and even murder. 

 

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Give Up, Gecko! by Margaret Read MacDonald

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 8

The lakes and rivers have dried up and all the thirsty animals agree that whoever digs to water will be their king. When it is gecko's turn to dig all the other animals all laugh at him and call for him to give up, but gecko won't listen.

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