Nonfiction books for teens can be hard to find. It can be a challenge to find age appropriate books on subjects they are interested in.
We recently received a comment from a reader looking for nonfiction books for her teen son who loves nonfiction history. She was looking for clean yet interesting nonfiction.
This comment got Grace and I talking about the challenges of finding good, clean, nonfiction books for teens.
Teens need to learn history, but finding books that make history interesting can be hard. Add on to that the challenge of finding clean, not super graphic, but interesting history books, and it is even harder.
Because we know that it can be hard to find interesting age appropriate nonfiction books, we decided to put together a list of books we thought that history loving teens would enjoy.
Please keep in mind that what some people view as appropriate others may not. History often involves war and hardships, that is the reality of life.
The books listed below don’t gloss over history, but they also aren’t overly graphic. Outside of the war parts of these books, we consider them fairly “clean” reads.
Grace found The Polar Bear Expedition to be so fascinating. We had no clue that the USA, Great Britain, and several other countries tried to invade Russia and help a group over throw the communist government. This book focus on the American men who went into Russia fighting for a war that was given up rather quickly. It is a sad story, but an interesting part of history that few people know about.
The Boys In the Boat is one of our family’s favorite nonfiction books. It is well written and reads more like a novel than a real story. The Boys in the Boat focuses on how Joe Rantz and other boys over came the great Depression and rowed their boat to victory. This book shares a story of hardship, leadership, teamwork, and the rewards that come from sacrifice and hard work. The lessons and stories hared in this book are perfect for teens.
Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans is a great book for teens who enjoy history. It is very fascinating and easy read. It is a bit slow in the beginning, but once you get a few chapters in it picks up. This is one of those books that shares a part of history that a lot of people do not know about.
You Learn By Living by Eleanor Roosevelt was originally published in 1960, but I was amazed at how easily it could have been written today. The title, You Learn By Living, says exactly what this book is about. Eleanor Roosevelt shares her the lessons she has learned through living her life. This book is part memoir and part lessons on living life. She talks about fear, using time wisely, being useful, facing responsibilities, and so much more. This would be a great book for teens and college students.
The Dog Who Could Fly share a little different view on WWII as Robert was from the Czech Republic and not from one of the major countries in WWII. It also unique in his experience of trying to keep a dog while he was in the air force. Grace loved this one because it was not only a WWII story it was also a sweet animal story. It is a little sad for the dog in some parts, but in others you can’t help but cheer him on. I recommend this book to anyone who loves animal stories, war stories, and stories that are unique.
Grace read Gifted Hands as a teenager and loved it. She loved it because this book is a success story. It was very well written and had a good view on how hard work can help people to become better. Ben Carson also had a wonderful mother who worked hard to raise and teach her boys. Gifted Hands is a very encouraging book as Ben Carson tells readers about his life. This is a fantastic read that should be on everyone’s list.
Some of the best books are books about events in history that are not very well known and Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates fits into that category. One of Thomas Jefferson many accomplishments was strengthening the United States’ Navy. This is partly because of the pirates off the coast of Africa. This book points out the challenges of fighting a navel battle back in that time period. This is a great book for teens especially those that love to read about pirates and adventure.
Adam Makos Books
Our family really enjoys reading anything by the author Adam Makos. He makes history interesting. These books do go into detail about war and the problems of war, so some younger teens might find them a bit more challenging to read. These would definitely make great nonfiction books for high schoolers that enjoy history.
Spearhead is the World War II story of an American tank gunner’s journey into the heart of the Third Reich.
Devotion shares the inspirational story of the U.S. Navy’s most famous aviator duo, Lieutenant Tom Hudner and Ensign Jesse Brown, and the Marines they fought to defend.
Voices of the Pacific follows fifteen Marines from the Pearl Harbor attack, through battles with the Japanese, to their return home after V-J Day. This is oral history of the Pacific War in the words of the men who fought on the front lines. With unflinching honesty, these Marines reveal harrowing accounts of combat with an implacable enemy, the friendships and camaraderie they found—and lost—and the aftermath of the war’s impact on their lives.
Indestructible is a personal story that draws you me into the characters. It also touches on how hard it was Australia and in Japan’s concentration camps that many were forced into living in. I found Pappy Gunn’s story to be different than a normal soldiers view of the war as Pappy Gunn worked behind the scenes. This was a pretty clean book. It does have a descriptive war scene. It well written, very thick, and well worth your time, especially if you love World War II stories.
I knew nothing about this flood that happened in Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s. It is a part of history that I should have known about but didn’t. I don’t remember learning about this historic flood or the part that the Gilded Age of American played in it.
I picked up Ruthless Tide for my nonfiction books for every state challenge and loved it. I liked the fact that this book was not super long or overly detailed. It covered a good amount of information and the author kept it interesting. I think this would be a good book for a high school student to read because it is an event that a lot of the younger generation knows nothing about.
The Storm of the Century is another book by Al Roker. It covers a storm and part of Texas history that I knew very little about. It took me a few chapters to really get into the book, but once I did I really enjoyed it. This is a great read for anyone interested in science and weather. I think it would be a great non-fiction book for teens who like science and history.
If you have been reading our book reviews, you know Grace loves animal stories from All Creatures Great and Small, The Dog who could Fly, Rin Tin Tin, and so on. She added Stubby to her to read pile this summer. It was fun. I knew some of Stubby because he is one of the most famous war dogs, but it was good to read his full story. If you like animal stories this is a good one.
Do you have a nonfiction book recommendation that would be great for teens? Please leave a comment letting us know what you recommend for teens.