Below is a list of adult nonfiction books originally written for adults that have been adapted for teens. These books are both great for teens and also great for adults who want shorter overviews on topics before diving into the full length books.
Stamped–Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People: ReVisioning History for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz & Jean Mendoza
Spanning more than 400 years, this classic bottom-up history examines the legacy of Indigenous peoples’ resistance, resilience, and steadfast fight against imperialism.
Going beyond the story of America as a country “discovered” by a few brave men in the “New World,” Indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity.
Dear America, Young Readers’ Edition: The Story of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas was only twelve years old when he was brought to the United States from the Philippines to live with his grandparents. He didn’t know it, but he was sent to the U.S. illegally. When he applied for a learner’s permit, he learned the truth, and he spent the next almost twenty years keeping his immigration status a secret. Hiding in plain sight, he was writing for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country. Only after publicly admitting his undocumented status—risking his career and personal safety—was Vargas able to live his truth.
Trevor Noah, the funny guy who hosts The Daily Show on Comedy Central, shares his remarkable story of growing up in South Africa with a black South African mother and a white European father at a time when it was against the law for a mixed-race child to exist. But he did exist—and from the beginning, the often-misbehaved Trevor used his keen smarts and humor to navigate a harsh life under a racist government.
Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who lived through the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers’ Edition) by Malala Yousafzai & Patricia McCormick
Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school. Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school. No one expected her to survive. Now Malala is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington’s Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away; Young Readers’ Edition by Erica Armstrong Dunbar & Kathleen Van Cleve
Born into a life of slavery, Ona Judge eventually grew up to be George and Martha Washington’s “favored” dower slave. When she was told that she was going to be given as a wedding gift to Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Ona made the bold and brave decision to flee to the north, where she would be a fugitive. From her childhood, to her time with the Washingtons and living in the slave quarters, to her escape to New Hampshire, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, along with Kathleen Van Cleve, shares an intimate glimpse into the life of a little-known, but powerful figure in history, and her brave journey as she fled the most powerful couple in the country.
A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America For Young People by Ronald Takaki & Rebecca Stefoff
Adapted for young people, this book deals with the subject of minority perspectives of multicultural America, incorporating quotes, folk songs, letters, telegrams, and photographs into the text. It deals with, Native Americans, African Americans pre- and post-slavery era, Irish, Mexicans, Chicanos, Chinese, Japanese, Jews, and ties up the book with a current (for the time the book was written) summary of where minorities are now. Each chapter talks about the history of a different ethnic group, and covers over a period of time public attitudes towards the minority, public policy, laws for or against the minority, and attitude of the minority towards their situation.
Notorious RBG Young Readers’ Edition: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become an icon to millions. Her tireless fight for equality and women’s rights has inspired not only great strides in the workforce but has impacted the law of the land. And now, perfect for a younger generation, comes an accessible biography of this fierce woman, detailing her searing dissents and powerful jurisprudence.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition by William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer
When a terrible drought struck William Kamkwamba’s tiny village in Malawi, his family lost all of the season’s crops, leaving them with nothing to eat and nothing to sell. William began to explore science books in his village library, looking for a solution. There, he came up with the idea that would change his family’s life forever: he could build a windmill. Made out of scrap metal and old bicycle parts, William’s windmill brought electricity to his home and helped his family pump the water they needed to farm the land.
1493 for Young People: From Columbus’s Voyage to Globalization For Young People by Charles Mann & Rebecca Stefoff
1493 for Young People by Charles C. Mann tells the gripping story of globalization through travel, trade, colonization, and migration from its beginnings in the fifteenth century to the present. How did the lowly potato plant feed the poor across Europe and then cause the deaths of millions? How did the rubber plant enable industrialization? What is the connection between malaria, slavery, and the outcome of the American Revolution? How did the fabled silver mountain of sixteenth-century Bolivia fund economic development in the flood-prone plains of rural China and the wars of the Spanish Empire? Here is the story of how sometimes the greatest leaps also posed the greatest threats to human advancement.
A Queer History of the United States for Young People: ReVisioning History for Young People by Michael Bronski & Richie Chevat
Queer history didn’t start with Stonewall. This book explores how LGBTQ people have always been a part of our national identity, contributing to the country and culture for over 400 years.
It is crucial for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth to know their history. But this history is not easy to find since it’s rarely taught in schools or commemorated in other ways. A Queer History of the United States for Young People corrects this and demonstrates that LGBTQ people have long been vital to shaping our understanding of what America is today.
Through engrossing narratives, letters, drawings, poems, and more, the book encourages young readers, of all identities, to feel pride at the accomplishments of the LGBTQ people who came before them and to use history as a guide to the future.
“What’s for dinner?” seemed like a simple question—until journalist and supermarket detective Michael Pollan delved behind the scenes. From fast food and big organic to small farms and old-fashioned hunting and gathering, this young readers’ adaptation of Pollan’s famous food-chain exploration encourages kids to consider the personal and global health implications of their food choices.
No God but God: The Origins and Evolution of Islam by Reza Aslan
Adapted for young readers from No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, this exploration of Islam by Reza Aslan, internationally acclaimed scholar of comparative religion, delves into the rituals and traditions of a religion that is largely misunderstood by the West. It covers the religion’s origins—the revelation of Muhammad as Prophet and the subsequent uprising against him, and the emergence of his successors—as well as Islam’s complex history.
-Anna, Head of Youth Services