18 Engaging, Informative Nonfiction Books for Middle Graders | Summer Reading 2020

History, science, current events, and social sciences are explored in these highly engaging narrative and expository nonfiction texts for middle grade readers. 

History, science, current events, and social sciences are explored in these highly engaging narrative and expository nonfiction texts for middle grade readers. 

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander. illus. by Kadir Nelson. HMH/Versify. ISBN 9781328780966.

A poignant and powerful ode to the resilience and strength of black life and history in America. Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated in 2016, the poem adopts a picture book format, accompanied by stunning oil paintings in Nelson's trademark photorealistic style.

Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science Behind Your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia. Lerner. ISBN 9781512449167.

An interwoven tale of science, history, and the fictional monsters we love and fear. Each monster (perhaps) becomes a little less scary as readers start to understand the science behind each one. From the electricity that seemingly awoke Frankenstein’s monster to the radiation that evidently created Godzilla, the science is systematically broken down. 

Moon Mission: The Epic 400-Year Journey to Apollo 11 by Sigmund Brouwer. Kids Can. ISBN 9781525300363.

An engaging second-person point of view narrative puts readers into the place of the astronauts in this detailed exploration of the triumphs and near-disasters of the Apollo 11 mission and the science and scientists who made it possible. 

Machines That Think! by Don Brown. illus. by author. Abrams/Amulet. ISBN 9781419740985.

A look at machines through the ages, from the abacus to 16th-century thinker Blaise Pascal’s Pascaline to Ada Lovelace’s analytical machine to the early computers used by NASA, and, finally, to smartphones.

Warrior Dog: The True Story of a Navy SEAL and His Fearless Canine Partner by Will Chesney with Joe Layden. Feiwel & Friends. Jun. 2020. ISBN 9781250244901.

The story of Chesney, a Navy SEAL, and his best friend Cairo, a 70-pound Belgian Malinois.

Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation by Candy J. Cooper with Marc Aronson. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781547602322.

Thoroughly sourced and meticulously documented, this stomach-churning, blood-boiling, tear-jerking account synthesizes a city’s herculean efforts to access safe, clean water.

book covers

Draw a Comic! by JP Coovert. illus. by author. First Second. ISBN 9781250152114; ISBN 9781250152121.

A step-by-step guide to drawing comics—including how to create informative, nonfiction comics modeled on the publisher’s popular “Science Comics” series.

The Truth About Hawks by Maxwell Eaton III. illus. by author. Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781250198457.

A lighthearted and humorous graphic novel-style look at one of nature’s fiercest birds of prey.

Lafayette!: A Revolutionary War Tale by Nathan Hale. illus. by author. Abrams/Amulet. ISBN 9781419731488.

About-to-be-executed spy Nathan Hale entertains his captors and readers by telling stories about U.S. history in this popular graphic novel series. In this installment, Hale returns to the setting of the American Revolution to focus on the early life of French aristocrat and Revolutionary War hero Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. 

Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship.” by Deborah Heiligman. Holt. ISBN 9781627795548.

The story of bravery, courage, and despair through the eyes of the passengers on the SS City of Benares, a ship commissioned to sail to Canada with 100 children on board during World War II, which was torpedoed by a German submarine.

Raise Your Voice: 12 Protests That Shaped America by Jeffrey Kluger. Philomel. ISBN 9780525518303.

A history of activist events in United States history, beginning with the Boston Tea Party and concluding with the Standing Rock/Dakota Pipeline dispute.

Spaceman: The True Story of a Young Boy’s Journey To Becoming an Astronaut by Mike Massimino. Delacorte. ISBN 9780593120866.

Massimino’s young readers’ adaptation of his best-selling adult autobiography describes the author’s nontraditional path to joining NASA, and his personal, academic, and professional challenges.

The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot To Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch. Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781250244833.

In this young reader’s edition of their best-selling book, Meltzer and Mensch trace a shadowy plot to kill Washington that may have originated with New York’s royal governor, William Tryon.

Give Us the Vote!: Over Two Hundred Years of Fighting for the Ballot by Susan Goldman Rubin. Holiday House. ISBN 9780823439577.

Rubin studies the history behind winning the right to vote, both for women and people of color, and confronts issues still faced today.

Forensics: Super Science and Curious Capers for the Daring Detective in You by Anne Ruppert & Kate Messner. National Geographic. ISBN 9781426337444.

Four different mysteries that need to be solved using forensic science. Each mystery starts off with an explanation of the scenario, presents evidence, shows readers suspects with motives, and explains how to investigate the evidence.

Born To Fly: The First Women’s Air Race Across America by Steve Sheinkin. illus. by Bijou Karman. Roaring Brook. ISBN 9781626721302.

Using a collected biographical approach, Sheinkin presents the history of early American aviation and the changing role of women in society, culminating in the Women’s Air Derby of 1929. 

Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II by Andrea Warren. Holiday House. ISBN 9780823441518.

In 1941, when Norman Mineta was nine years old, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and his life changed forever. Using more than 100 photographs and many quotes from Mineta, the book chronicles his family's experiences living in an internment camp in Wyoming.

What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal by Eldon Yellowhorn & Kathy Lowinger. Annick. ISBN 9781773213293; ISBN 9781773213286.

This eclectic work of nonfiction shares several stories about the struggles and survival of Indigenous people across North America, primarily focusing on Canada and the United States.

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