Non-fiction has always been a popular genre. It provides a chance to learn in a fun way. Textbooks and classrooms have to focus on specific details and can be very dry, but YA books about history can be more accessible to younger readers. The style of writing can be more entertaining and the subjects themselves can go more into details that create narratives – relationships, morbid details, and the nitty-gritty details.
It can also provide a connection for readers who need it; readers can find somebody who inspires them, somebody that’s gone through the same thing readers are experiencing. Younger readers often feel isolated and feel like the experiences they have are experiences nobody else goes through because they only see the upbeat, positive presentations of people’s lives in media. Non-fiction can provide indisputable assurances that people aren’t alone in their struggles.
In YA, non-fiction has continued to grow in popularity. Part of that is because a lot of celebrities are writing memoirs and advice books aimed at their teen audiences and they’ve had a lot of success doing it. That success has inspired more authors and publishers to take a chance on non-fiction for teens, both in straight prose and in graphic novels.
Graphic novels have seen massive success in kids’ books for years. Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home was turned into a Broadway musical. Maus by Art Spiegelman and March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell are graphic novels used to teach history to children and they get taught in classes. Smile by Raina Telgemeier and El Deafo by Cece Bell and David Lasky are memoirs that children can find comfort in.
Prose non-fiction has also been getting a lot of notoriety, both from celebrities and ordinary authors. I Got This by Laurie Hernandez, the Olympian gymnast who also won Dancing with the Stars, hit the bestseller list earlier this year. Lily Collins, a popular young actress, released an essay collection called Unfiltered in March. How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana and Abigail Pesta is a memoir about being a refugee, a timely read. Queer, There, and Everywhere by Sarah Prager and Zoe More O’Ferral is a collection of famous queer people who changed the world that released just in time for Pride this month. Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming won dozens of awards when it released. Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Susan Elizabeth McClelland brings the reality of North Korea to teens in a heartbreaking memoir. The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming, Bomb by Steve Sheinkin, Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson help make history accessible to teens in award winning reads.
Non-fiction still has a lot of ground to cover in YA books, but the expansion is beginning and more and more subjects are getting covered every month. What are you hoping to see non-fiction YA cover next? Tweet us @piquebeyond and let us know what you’re looking for!