Nonfiction

Note: Hot pepper ratings based on grade level expectations.
 



In May 1996 the media scrambled to document the gripping story of sixteen-year-old Mark Pfetzer's expedition to Mount Everest. Not only was he the youngest climber ever to attempt the summit, he also witnessed the tragedy documented in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, in which eight climbers perished in a sudden storm. Within Reach is Mark's extraordinary account of this experience and of his triumphs over several other challenging peaks. At once triumphant and tragic, this story will be an inspiration to climbers, athletes, and armchair enthusiasts alike.

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This book is considered relatively easy. 




 
Even in the darkest of times—especially in the darkest of times—there is room for strength and bravery. A remarkable memoir from Leon Leyson, one of the youngest children to survive the Holocaust on Oskar Schindler’s list.  Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory—a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s List.

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This book is considered relatively easy. 

 







I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.


When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. 

Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.

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This book is considered average difficulty.
 


Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank's remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.


In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the "Secret Annexe" of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death.


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This book is considered average difficulty.
 



 
"The true stories I've written in this book are my living nightmares. My greatest hope is that the lessons the stories offer will help you make better choices than I did." Stanley "Tookie" Williams, cofounder of the notorious Crips gang, is a death-row inmate. But in his two decades of incarceration, Williams has also become a respected author and activist whose dedication to ending gang warfare in the lives of inner-city children has earned him a 2001 Nobel Peace Prize nomination. In this award-winning book which has drawn praise from educators, government leaders, and families alike Williams describes the brutal reality of being an inmate. He debunks myths of prisons as "gladiator schools" with blunt, riveting stories of overwhelming homesickness, the terror of solitary confinement, and the humiliation of strip-searches. Williams' words are a frank challenge to adolescent readers to educate themselves, make intelligent decisions, and above all, not to follow in his footsteps.

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This book is considered average difficulty.




 
Jack O'Brien, the impossibly demanding basketball coach at Charlestown High School in Boston, has led his team to five state championship titles in six years. Less talked about is O'Brien's other winning record: Nearly every one of the players who stuck with his program—poor kids growing up in high-crime neighborhoods and saddled with the lousy educational system available in urban America—managed to get to college. But O'Brien is no saint. Saints give without expecting anything in return. O'Brien needs his players and their problems as much as they need him. Revolving around fascinating, complex characters, The Assist is a captivating narrative of a basketball team in pursuit of a championship that also drills down into the legacy of desegregation and explores issues of education, family, and race. O'Brien is a middle-aged white guy coaching an all-black team playing in an all-white neighborhood that three decades ago was at the center of the busing wars dividing cities across the country—a time and place indelibly described in J. Anthony Lukas's powerful book Common Ground. It's the inspiring story of a man who makes a difference, and of boys surmounting nearly impossible odds; it is also the story of the ones who don't make it, and why.

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This book is considered difficult. 

 

 
This book features the incredible true stories of teenage Jews who fought back against the Nazis during the Holocaust. There is a mistaken impression among many people that the six million Jews who were exterminated by the Nazis were led to their deaths like sheep to slaughter without resisting. Although there was relatively little armed rebellion among the victims, it was mostly because the Nazis deviously hid their true intentions when they rounded up unarmed men, women and children and shipped them off to death camps. For most Jews, there was no choice whether to fight or not because they never had the chance to take up arms.

But by luck or fate, thousands of Jews-many of them teenagers-slipped out of dehumanizing ghettos, concentration camps, and hiding places to join resistance groups known as partisans. Fighting primarily in Eastern Europe, these brave men and women wreaked havoc on the Nazis through guerrilla warfare and sabotage. These warriors relished the opportunity to fight back. As Sonia Orbuch, a Polish-born partisan, explained, "If I was going to die, I was going to die as a fighter, not as a Jew." This book chronicles the experiences of Sonia and six other young Jewish partisans. These accounts are based exclusively on the personal, lengthy interviews with each former partisan featured in this book. Using real names, dates and places, these stories are written as factual and truthful versions of their recollections.

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This book is considered difficult.