In addition to the finalists and award winner, YALSA publishes a list of vetted nominations for the Nonfiction Award. Seals for nonfiction nominees are available in the ALA Store and may be purchased in bulk. Click YALSA's Award Seals webpage for more information.
** denotes winner
* denotes finalists
Bascomb, Neal. Sabotage: The Mission to Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 9780545732437. Set during the Nazi occupation of Norway, this tells the story of the Norwegians who fought back, enlisting help from the British to prevent Hitler from creating his own atomic bomb. Survival, intrigue, and plenty of explosions make this real-life adventure story a fast-paced, exciting read.
*Blumenthal, Karen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History. Feiwel and Friends. 9781250060143. Active in politics from a young age, Hillary Clinton has maintained her commitment to public service while serving as First Lady of Arkansas and of the U.S, and as New York Senator and U.S. Secretary of State. Blumenthal presents an honest, well-rounded account that does not shy away from the aspects of Clinton's life clouded by scandal and controversy, nor from the struggle of living in the public eye. Presented in four parts and sprinkled with photographs and political cartoons, Hillary Rodham Clinton brings a political powerhouse to life in a way that is approachable, human, and inspiring.
*Davis, Kenneth C. In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives. Holt. 9781627793117. In a clear-eyed, well-researched work, Davis looks at the relationship between five enslaved persons and the former presidents who considered them property. In weaving together the story of these lives, Davis explains the contradiction between America’s founding ideals and the harsh reality of human bondage. Utilizing personal narratives, census data, images, and other primary source material, this book explains a heartbreaking chapter in American history that is both fascinating and deeply disturbing.
Freedman, Russell. Vietnam: A History of the War. Holiday. 9780823436583. In an amazingly succinct yet detailed book, Russell Freedman explains the complicated history of the Vietnam War. Freedman takes readers from Vietnam’s colonial past up to President Obama’s 2016 visit while describing how the war began and how it was resolved. He details the motivations of those involved in leading the war and what life was like for the Vietnamese and American soldiers during the conflict. Archival photos and first-person accounts add to this engaging read.
**Lewis, John and Andrew Aydin. Illus. by Nate Powell. March: Book Three. Top Shelf. 9781603094023. Powerful and captivating, this graphic novel depicts the Civil Rights movement from fall of 1963 through the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Following John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and fellow activists, the artwork brings to life the brutality, loss, and successes members experienced while carrying out a series of nonviolent protests to overcome local barriers and exercise their right to vote. Equally moving as a stand-alone title or conclusion to the March trilogy, March: Book Three will hook readers from the opening scene and leave them questioning how they themselves might answer the call of injustice long after the last page is turned.
Marrin, Albert. Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience during World War II. Knopf. 9780553509366. This text chronicles the events that led to the internment of over 100, 000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Marrin argues that the internment was motivated more by racism than wartime hysteria and digs deeply into the shared history between the United States and Japan. First-hand accounts from Japanese Americans depict fear, anxiety, and hope for a better life while interned.
Miller, Sarah. The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century. Random/Schwartz & Wade. 9780553498080. Lizzie Borden’s trial for the murder of her father and stepmother was indeed “the trial of the century.” To this day there has been no final resolution—a fact that makes this book, aimed at young adults, so gripping. Trial transcripts, newspaper articles, drawings, photographs, and copious notes make this book a stellar example of nonfiction writing.
*Osborne, Linda Barrett. This Land Is Our Land: A History of American Immigration. Abrams. 9781419716607. Immigrants arriving in the U.S. have, more often than not, been met with suspicion, anger, and prejudice. Opponents of immigration argue that immigrants take jobs away from U.S. citizens, don't deserve to be here, and should be sent back to where they came from—a prevalent attitude that has, as this book shows, target groups including Hispanics, the Irish, and Asians. The topic is current and this book gives timely background information that is especially needed today.
Rubin, Susan Goldman. Brown v. Board of Education: A Fight for Simple Justice. Holiday. 9780823436460. An informative look at the history of the landmark civil rights case that ended school segregation, examining the series of lower court cases that culminated in the historic Supreme Court decision. Coupled with powerful archival photographs that revealed the dismal realities of segregated schools, first-person accounts from the brave individuals involved in these cases bring to life the issues at stake.
Stelson, Caren. Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story. Carolrhoda. 9781467789035. Sachiko Yasui was only six years old when the bomb fell on her hometown, Nagasaki. She lost her home, her friends, and her baby brother, but not her spirit to survive and find peace with what happened on that fateful day in August, 1945.
Sweet, Melissa. Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White. HMH. (9780544319592. As early as the endpapers, readers will be immersed in this spellbinding biography of E.B. White. Sweet’s presentation of White’s life brilliantly combines her collages and illustrations with photographs, manuscripts, and White’s letters, resulting in an experience similar to that of paging through a family scrapbook. A strong focus on primary sources, a detailed time line, and an engaging format capture the spirit of White’s life and words in a way that is as endearing as his familiar stories.
*Turner, Pamela S. Illus. by Gareth Hinds. Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune. Charlesbridge. 9781580895842. Bushido, or samurai culture, has been widely explored in film and literature; here, its origins are presented for a teen audience with the tale of the "ultimate samurai," Minamoto Yoshitsune. A fast-paced and unexpectedly funny tale filled with family feuds, bloody battles, and sweeping romance, Samurai Rising combines thorough historical research with contemporary observations to make a compelling chronicle of Yoshitsune's journey from child exile to immortal hero of legend.
Wallace, Rich and Sandra Neil Wallace. Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek. 9781629790947. The first young adult biography of civil rights activist Jonathan Daniels, a seminary student who answered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to action, joining the fight for black voting rights in 1965 Alabama. Filled with photos and mementos of Daniels’ life, this detailed portrait captures the heart of its subject and his unyielding determination to uphold the rights of black Americans. A deeply resonant story of white allyship in the continuing struggle for racial equality.
Woelfle, Gretchen. Answering the Cry for Freedom: Stories of African Americans and the American Revolution. By Gretchen Woelfle. Illus. by R. Gregory Christie. Boyds Mills/Calkins Creek. 9781629793061. By describing the lives of 13 African American men and women who sought freedom during the Revolutionary War, this text introduces readers to a piece of our country’s history that they likely have not previously encountered. An engaging read with detailed notes, and a time line for each person in focus.