This week’s suggested titles all fall into the nonfiction category, but trust me, they are anything but dull! If you like learning about real people and the real world, these books are for you.
Until a few years ago, I seldom read nonfiction. I couldn’t imagine that reading history or science could ever be as compelling as a story. What a mistake! Nonfiction can be every bit as dramatic as fiction with the added bonus of learning something new.
TORPEDOED: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship”
Nonfiction by Deborah Heiligman
This true story of the World War II sinking of the Children’s Ship recounts the German attack on the British ship Benares which was carrying 100 children across the Atlantic. The children’s parents thought they were sending their offspring to safety—London was being mercilessly bombed—but tragedy struck in the form of a torpedo. Told from multiple points of view, this account will have you holding your breath. Photographs and illustrations help you picture what was happening from start to finish.
POISON: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines
Nonfiction by Sarah Albee
Imagine a light-hearted—and methodically researched—take on deadly deeds, perilous professions, and murderous medicines. Part history, part science, and part thriller, this book explores the role poison has played over centuries and across cultures. You will come away knowing a lot more about the chemistry of poisoning, but worry not—this is no “how-to” manual. Sarah Albee’s tongue-in-cheek tone is sure to delight any reader who enjoys the sinister side of life.
BUBONIC PANIC: When Plague Invaded America
Nonfiction by Gail Jarrow
Known for her earlier books about disease, Gail Jarrow focuses this time on the bubonic plague outbreak of 1900. Chillingly told and carefully researched, Jarrow charts the course both of the infection and of the public health professionals who raced the clock to save lives. The book does not gloss over the ways that fear, prejudice, and panic influenced the course of events. It also offers a historical perspective on the pandemic we are living through.
As you read these titles, consider:
- How does our understanding of historical events shape the way we see the world?
- What does it take to survive a crisis?
Try out one of these activities to take your reading to the next level:
- Social Studies Connection: Visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website to learn more about the triumphs and failures of children refugee programs, like the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB), during the 1930s and 1940s.
- Visit author Sarah Albee’s website for some entertaining videos about the poisonous stories in her book.
- Social Studies Connection: Explore this interactive website to learn about the Black Death, a worldwide outbreak of the bubonic plague in the 1300s and one of the worst pandemics recorded in history.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.
Note: HMH is not responsible for the content of third-party websites.
Photo of Carol Jago provided by ©Andrew Collings