CYBILS 2013! This year I was asked to look at young adult nonfiction titles. Since the choices have been made and the titles are up (here), I am going to honestly say that I was disappointed in the category. I had hoped, with the nonfiction focus shift in Common Core Standards, that I would find some great new nonfiction to recommend to my colleagues. There weren't many nominations, probably because the category has a limited number of published titles. That's something for writers to think about...... I think we looked at something like fifty titles and I would recommend, maybe, six. Three of those would be with cautionary comments. All in all, the titles were way too dry. I understand that these are young adult titles, but they are YOUNG adults.
Let me talk about the ones who made it to the finalist list:
My personal favorite was Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays. It's a collection of well-voiced essays that deviate from the formulaic essays many English Language Arts teachers are prone to forcing. There are persuasive, informative personal and literary essay examples. I would recommend this one for both library and classroom purchase, a must for secondary ELA classes.
I also liked The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, but I think it might be a bit too narrow of a topic for a general reader. If you have a reader who likes the Bronte Sisters, this will interest them. However, I don't think this book is meant to bring new readers to the Brontes.
The one I got to blurb about was The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List. It's a posthumous biography from a Holocaust survivor who was saved by Oskar Schindler. A must for libraries.
Another must for library purchase: Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II was pretty good. Again, all of the nonfiction titles were narrow in their focus.
Lastly is the title that young adults will probably like the best: "The President Has Been Shot!": The Assassination of John F. Kennedy. It has good accompanying photos and illustrations, making it seem a little less taxing. This one is not only library, but also classroom purchase worthy.
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