NNFN: An overview of non-fiction for teens

Today’s guest post is brought to us by Andi, a bookseller at the Birmingham branch of Foyles. She reminds us that there is plenty of non-fiction for teens out there if only we look for it:

“Young Adult Non-Fiction has taken the book world by storm since Vloggers such as Zoella and Tanya Burr burst onto the scene; writing novels, giving us beauty tips, making us laugh; basically recreating YA Non-Fiction for a new generation, and making an often neglected area start to thrive once more (or maybe even for the first time) in book shops.

The popularity of these books has also given back life to other YA Non-Fiction titles by helping it become a section in its own right, rather than just under the umbrella of Children’s Reference.

YA Non-Fiction is an eclectic mixture of biography, self help, blogging, fashion and beauty, with an abundance of creative journals such as Keri Smith’s Wreck this Journal added in.

In today’s digital age with cyber bullying becoming so serious it’s a relief to know there are books that can help, and give advice on what to do. Bullies, Cyberbullies and Frenemies by Michele Elliott is a simple, with clear, concise information with chapters from ‘what to do if I am being bullied’ to ‘self-assertiveness’.

Now really is the time to celebrate YA Non-Fiction and its diversity. There is so much to explore, and so much that can help teenagers, such as the above book, and others on puberty and sexuality. James Dawson’s This Book is Gay is a brilliant example of Young Adult Non-Fiction that not only helps young adults and their families in dealing with sexuality and gender, but does it in James’ usual down to earth and humorous style, which makes it an easy and compelling read. He’s written another book called Being a Boy which frank, funny and the perfect book for a boy going through puberty. His next non-fiction title, Mind Your Head is out next year, and is about mental health. I was privileged enough to have a sneak peek at the first few chapters and know it’s going to help a lot of people. This is a subject that needs exploring in YA Non-Fiction. So many people suffer in silence and believe they are the only one to feel how they feel, but if they stumble upon a book like this, it could make them get the help they need.

Although not technically a YA non-fiction title, Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive is about his personal struggle with anxiety and depression, and how he came through it and lives with it today. It’s the perfect read for a young adult as Matt was a young adult when he started suffering, I can’t recommend it highly enough, and always try to keep a copy in the YA Non-Fiction section of Foyles.

Young Adult Non-Fiction is not all doom and gloom—there is The Teenager’s Guide to Money by Jonathan Self which is non-patronising, interesting and gives great tips from saving money to banking, and even eventually buying your own home.

Sean Covey, successful author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens has come back with The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make which helps you make smart choices in challenging times, giving guidance to make informed decisions, how to succeed in school, make friends and even get along with your parents.

Then there are biographies; The TV series My Mad, Fat Diary was based on a biography of the same name by Rae Earl. Set out like a real diary, this book captures the life of an ordinary girl growing up in the 80s. Some teens would prefer to read about real people, and there are biographies out there aimed at young adults; you can find them right now in Foyles’ YA None-Fiction section; from Bob the Cat, to the biography that inspired John Green’s Fault in Our Stars—This Star Won’t Go Out: the Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl. She was still a child when she developed Thyroid cancer and the pages of this book were her thoughts, hopes, dreams and sketches throughout her years fighting. Inspiring, heartbreaking, but also hopeful; a must read for any Fault in Our Stars fan.

So there it is, a very basic overview of young adult non-fiction, it’s so much more than what we’re lead to believe, and will only get stronger.”

Andi has been a bookseller for over ten years. She joined the Birmingham Foyles team in September 2015 where she now runs the children and young adult sections. These two areas are a real passion of hers. Her favourite book of the year so far is One by Sarah Crossan.

This guest post was provided by Andi. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups.


One response to “NNFN: An overview of non-fiction for teens”

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