What YA’ Reading: New Nonfiction

Hey friends! Our new nonfiction section is full of incredible selections that beg to be checked out. (Insert applause for our fantastic selector team here.) If you’re not seeing something on a topic you would like to read up on, feel free to put in a purchase suggestion! I’m showing off some of the awesome nonfiction titles that have caught my eye recently. From poetry to personal experiences to cookbooks, I found a towering stack of inspiration. Let me tell you aaaalllll about it!

Rising Trouble Maker: A Fear-Fighter Manual for Teens by Luvvie Ajayi Jones

This powerful book begins by defining what our author means by being a trouble maker. Have you experienced the trouble you can get in for asking questions? For advocating for justice and pursuing truth? These are aspects of “good trouble.” Former U.S. Representative John Lewis’s work and advocacy with the Civil Rights movement is an excellent example of good trouble. Jones clearly distinguishes between making “good trouble,” which is the emphasis of this book, and being a troll who aims to cause chaos.

There are three sections in this book: BE, SAY and DO. Within each section Jones shares her personal stories as she relates steps for growing confidence. Jones recognizes the fear and insecurities that are ready to bog a person down. In BE Jones urges you to get to know yourself and to own your individual identity. Lean into those qualities others have used to label you as “too much” and take back your power. In SAY she discusses using your voice. Ask questions and ask them loud. In the final section Jones challenges you to DO. Rally your crew, stay open to learning and growing, and fight that fear.

I love this book and I’m enamored with the concept of a rising trouble maker. All the personal tales Jones shares make it not only a relatable read, but an enjoyable one. It is incredibly inspirational. Generally, for my preferences, I like nonfiction that is less of a cover-to-cover read and more of an open it to any page. While this book has “manual” in the title, it is 100% worth your time.

Respect the Mic edited by Hanif Abdurraquib, Franny Choi, Dan “Sully” Sullivan and Peter Kahn

The poems in this book tackle topics ranging from pregnancy and relationships to childhood memories. Accordingly, the editors separate these poems into loose thematic categories including Coming of Age, Monsters at Home, Notes From Here, Survival Tactics, and Welcomes, Farewells, and Odes. Look for standouts like When Dinosaurs Roamed my World by Riley Moloney and Monster by Kelly Reuter Raymundo.

I enjoy poetry so much that I included not one, but two poetry entries in this list. There is something about poetry, slam poetry specifically, that elevates words into emotional art.

This particular collection is celebrating 20 years of poetry from a Chicagoland High School. Pulitzer Prize winning author Tyehimba Jess wrote the forward. The Spoken Word Clubs in Oak Park and River Forest High School in Chicago have such widely respected poetry they joke about how it’s the best MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) program in the country.

Let’s take a look at some of the alumni included in this collection. Respect the Mic includes work by NBA champion Iman Shumpert, National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson, National Student Poet Laureate Natalie Rose Richardson and comedian Langston Kerman. The collection incorporates different rhythms and styles of poetry that showcase a community of poetry. Prepare to be inspired by this one!

The Complete Cookbook for Teen Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen

This cookbook sets you up for easy use. It not only contains recipes for delicious food, but it makes it simple to flip through and make choices. The authors label each recipe as beginner, intermediate or advanced. If the recipe is vegetarian, it will be clearly labeled. The table of contents lays out each section in order of meals of the day.

Breakfast is full of sweet and savory meals, including avocado toast. While this is a beginner recipe, you can also make Shakshuka, which is a more complicated meal. The recipes come with options for substitutes. One of my favorite things about this cookbook is that it doesn’t talk down to it’s intended users. While it is written for youth, the authors clearly know teens are capable of anything. It has plenty of kitchen tips, including conversions. Wonder what grains you can substitute to accommodate diets? There’s a section in this cookbook for that! My favorite recipe in this cookbook is for Arepas. What will you create?

Inheritance: a Visual Poem written by Elizabeth Acevedo, illustrated by Andrea Pippins

As a bonus recommendation, I’m including one of my favorite Young Adult author’s latest poetry release. Inheritance: A Visual Poem has stunning full page illustrations by Andrea Pippins accompanying Elizabeth Acevedo’s words.

Through novels-in-verse and in poetry, Acevedo honors the experiences of Afro-Latino women. From the skin tones and the curls to the complicated history and the current racism, the words deliver impact and emotion. With just 48 pages, Acevedo lays down a series of words that paint a picture as vivid as Andrea Pippins’ illustrations. This book moved me and reminds me why I read everything Acevedo writes.

Here are more YA Nonfiction reads I love:

View complete list


As the teen librarian, Angie organizes amazing events and online activities. She also reads a lot of YA and is eager to suggest a book you can't put down.