Riveting Nonfiction for Grades 6-8

By Skokie Staff Youth Services

Enjoy these page-turners from some of the best writers of nonfiction. Daring rescues, scientific mysteries, horrific crimes, tragic lives--they're all here. And they're all true!

  • Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961

    2017 by Brimner, Larry Dane

    Would you risk your life to stand up for equality? Thirteen people, Black and white, rode Greyhound busses into the Jim Crow south in 1961 to test whether southern states were honoring federal antidiscrimination laws. They risked their lives, and some of them were injured so badly that they never fully recovered. Read this day-by-day diary of their journey, complete with heart-stopping photos.

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  • Older Than Dirt

    2017 by Brown, Don

    In this funny, fascinating graphic novel, a wise groundhog and his silly worm sidekick tell you everything about the geological history of Earth. It starts with the Big Bang and takes you through the cooling of the earth, the formation of the continents, the first signs of life, all the way to the present day. There are lots of interesting side features about scientists who made major discoveries about Earth's history. And--it's hilarious!

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  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

    2020 by Reynolds, Jason

    This is the United States history you don't learn in school. The history of racism is woven into our country's history, and Jason Reynolds writes directly about how it all began, how it continues, and what we can all do to change it.

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  • Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time

    2017 by Stone, Tanya Lee

    Worldwide, 62 million girls don't go to school. Modern-day slavery and child marriage, fueled by poverty, rob these girls of schooling that could change their lives--and ours. The author interviews nine girls from Cambodia to Sierra Leone to Ethiopia who are determined to get an education and lift themselves out of poverty in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

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  • The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found

    2017 by Sandler, Martin W.

    The Whydah was a famous pirate ship that prowled the Atlantic coast in the 1700s under the command of pirate captains like Black Sam Bellamy. Discover the details of pirate life--from why they signed on to what they ate to how they split up the spoils. It's a great ride!

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  • Impact! Asteroids and the Science of Saving the World

    2017 by Rusch, Elizabeth

    Did you know that our earth's atmosphere is hit by 100 tons of space rocks every day? Most of these are small, but some are about the size of a car! Very few make it through the atmosphere without burning up, but some of them do! Learn about the biggest asteroid collisions in history, visit the craters they've made in our planet, and find out what scientists are doing to prevent them in the future. Great photos of asteroid impact!

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  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers

    2017 by Heiligman, Deborah

    We don't often get to see the person behind larger-than-life historical figures. The author portrays Vincent Van Gogh, one of the world's great artists, as someone we can relate to. Quotes from his many letters to his brother Theo, descriptions of his mental illness and his many attempts to heal himself, and beautiful reprints of his artwork make us feel as though the Van Gogh brothers are dear friends.

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  • The 57 Bus

    2017 by Slater, Dashka

    The true story of a horrific crime. Two teens ride the same Oakland, California bus to school every day, but live very different lives. Sasha, a gender-fluid teen, goes to a small private school. Richard, a Black teen from a rough neighborhood, goes to a large public school. One day, something happens on that bus. And Richard and Sasha's lives are never the same.

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  • All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team

    2020 by Soontornvat, Christina

    Members of a boys' soccer team in Thailand made international news in 2018 when they were trapped in a cave that was rapidly filling up with water. This is the heart-stopping 18-day story of attempts to rescue the boys as the water continued to rise. Expert cavers, divers, and scientists from all over the world, many of whom spoke different languages, finally, after many failed attempts, rescued them all. See how they did it!

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  • Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream

    2009 by Stone, Tanya Lee

    Thirteen female pilots were trained as astronauts by NASA in the 1960s. They performed as well as if not better than their male colleagues yet they never made it into space. This book describes the history of NASA's early space programs and astronaut training in detail. But the real theme is gender bias and how that alone, despite exceptional performance in training, grounded these talented female pilots.

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  • Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917

    2011 by Walker, Sally M.

    During World War I, in a harbor in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the single largest explosion in history to that point killed 2,000 people. How did it happen? The author takes you through the town before and after the devastating explosion and introduces you to some of the people who lived it. Amazing photos fill out the story. You'll feel as though you're right there.

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