2020 Recommended Nonfiction List



Wells, Tytianna N. M. and Cathey,   When Hip Hop Met Poetry.  May 2019.  Honey Tree Publishing.  Paperback.  $12.95.  pages 370. 9780991031870.  Young Adult. 

In multiple formats of song lyrics, poetic verse, and journal entries author Tytianna Wells shares her passionate memoir from ages 13 to 19 which looks beneath the surface of a good-girl-bad-boy relationship where she becomes a teen mom who loses her baby to stillbirth before graduating from high school.  The loss of her daughter, Nadia Michelle, became a catalyst that broke all the stereotypes and barriers to Tytianna’s healthy growth and development into adulthood.  As the author of six children’s books and CEO of her own publishing company, Tytianna plans to use proceeds from her memoir to fund the Nadia Michelle Scholarship Foundation for the educational support and personal development of youth.

R E C O M M E N D E D    N O N F I C T I O N

Bennett,  Martellus.  Dear Black Boy.  2019.  The Imagination Agency.  Hardback. $17.99. 32 pages.   9780996982085.  Middle Grades and Younger.  This is a book of encouragement from a retired  NFL football player to young black boys who live in a society that thinks they are good for nothing more than playing sports or becoming rappers.  The same mental toughness, determination, fortitude and perseverance that make them great in sports can also make them successful in other facets of life.

Ellis, Deborah.  My Stories Start Here:  Voices of Young Offenders.  October 2019.   Groundwood Books.  Paperback $18.95.  9781773061214.  Middle Grade and Young Adults.   Deborah Ellis compiled a collection of real life stories based on interviews conducted with a diverse group of Canadian youth who have experience with the criminal justice system.  Each chapter is devoted to the specific issue of the interviewee, covering their personal narratives with recurring themes of drugs and alcohol, sex trafficking, physical and emotional abuse, sexual and gender identities, socioeconomic household structure, foster care, and criminal behavior.  Hard factual data and research backs up each story.  Sidebars ask readers the probing questions of who, what, how, and why.

Grimes, Nikki.  Ordinary Hazards:  A Memoir. October 2019.  Wordsong.  Hardback $19.99. 336 pages.  9781629798813.  Middle Grades and Young Adults.  This memoir in verse depicts Nikki Grimes’ formative years, which were shaded by her alcoholic mother’s mental illness, abuse across contexts, her father’s death, and other traumatic times. During this period, Nikki confronts racism and navigates foster care. Along the way, she leans into literature and writing and finds other small pockets of comfort to carry her through. This beautifully written story is a testament to her resilience and grace.

Top 10 List

Harris, Johnathan and Leach, Gary.  Colorblind: A Story on Racism.  April 2019.  Zuiker Press.  Hardcover Paperback $12.99.  96 pages.   9781947378124.  Middle Grades.  Colorblind is the graphic biography of a 15 year old African American boy named Johnathan who learns to deal with physical and verbal abuse because of his race. While coming from a tight-knit family, the person who had the greatest influence on Johnathan’s life is his incarcerated uncle who teaches him how counterproductive it is to allow hatred into his heart from the racist abuse he experiences.

Hogg, Lauren E., Zuiker, Anthony, and Hudson, Don.  Activist:  A Story of the Marjory S. Douglas Shooting. November 2019.  Zuiker Press.  Hardcover Paperback $12.99.  96 pages.  9781947378216.  Middle Grades.   With the tragic shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as a focal point, this graphic biography looks at the events and aftermath through the eyes of fourteen year old Lauren Hogg, who lost two of her closest friends to the rampage.  Instead of allowing the tragedy to defeat her, it turned into a catalyst of change for Lauren and her older brother David, prompting them into the work of activists and organizers in the social media phenomenon #NeverAgain and the March of Our Lives movement.

Top 10 List

Mendoza, Jean, Reese, Debbie, & Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People (ReVisioning American History for Young People).  July 2019.  Beacon Press. Paperback $18.95.  272 pages.  9780807049396.  Middle Grades and Young Adults.  The original text is adapted by renowned curriculum experts, Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza for middle grade and young adult teens. This book provides an in-depth look at 400 years of Indigenous history in America with stories of resistance and resilience. The text provides an unflinching critical analysis of settler colonialism and violence against Indigenous groups.

Murphy, Tara; Millar, Damon; and Enoki, Hiro.  The Tourettes Survival Kit:  Tools for Young Adults with Tics. Jessica Kingsley.  Paperback $17.95.  March 2019.  208 pages.  9781785923593. Young Adults. Presenting everyday situations, from schools and exams through to driving and dates, this guide provides simple solutions to common problems and concerns. Dr. Tara Murphy gives her top tips for managing tics, alongside behavioural therapy techniques for stress management and strategies for coping with commonly co-occurring conditions such as ADHD, OCD and anxiety.

Next Wave Muslim Initiative Writers.  I Am the Night Sky & Other Reflections by Muslim American Youth.  May 2019.  Shout Mouse Press. Paperback $14.99.  192 pages. 9781945434938.  Middle Grades and Young Adults.  In these challenging times, ten Muslim American teen authors encourage readers to reflect on a broad range of complex issues. “How do you celebrate the fact that you’re still breathing?” Indeed. This lively collection of essays, poems, and artwork offers insights into a multitude of difficulties facing young people; their strategies to overcome and grow; and the joys that emerge from their personal stories and loving communities.

Top 10 List

Ogle, Rex.  Free Lunch.  September 2019.  Norton.  Hardback $16.95.  208 pages.  9781324003601.  Middle Grades.  All kids need food, clothes, shelter, and love. How does someone in sixth grade who struggles to acquire all of these basics cope? Rex knows it shouldn’t be this way, but his inability to change his circumstances leads him to more difficulties with frustration, humiliation, and anger. The committee feels that Free Lunch offers a “painfully honest perspective on poverty in American through the eyes of a child, and a clear reminder that we need to do better as a society.”

Siljander, Bridget.  A String of Paper Suns:  An Experimental Memoir.   January 2019.  Bridget Siljander Publishing.   Paperback $14.95.  324 pages.  9780578446943.  Young Adult and Older Teens.  This experimental memoir shines light onto many dimensions of Bridget’s early life filled with abundant trauma grounded in poverty, abuse, and oppression. As her world shakes, the plot shifts back-and-forth down a windy and uneven path from her strictly religious upbringing through troubling relationships and single-motherhood into education and community advocacy. This candid contribution to young adult literature takes a critical and courageous look into a world we often have little privilege to.

Top 10 List

Young, Damon.  What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.  Ecco.  March 2019.   Hardback $27.99. 320 pages.  9780062684301.  Older Teens and Adults.   Written in essay as a memoir, Damon Young provides readers with a collection of personal experiences that focus on the perennial struggle to find breathing space in a society where one must endure the structural racism that accompanies living while being black in America.  Through his narratives Young has used this opportunity as a journalist and humorist to exercise a voice of advocacy for the cultural angst and neuroses this country’s tolerance of white supremacy has bred within himself and others who mirror his identity of blackness.

ITM NF 2020

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2020 Nominations and Awards