Four nonfiction books that will grab your students | Mentoring in the Middle

Four nonfiction books that will grab your students

Four nonfiction books that will grab your students' attention and keep them reading.
I love read-aloud time in my classroom.  It's one of my favorite things to do.  This is time for kids to sit back and listen to good books and fluent reading.  

Read-alouds stretch students' reading interests.  You think you only like realistic fiction?
Listen to this historical fiction book!
Or what about this science fiction one?
Explore a variety of genres with your students.

Including nonfiction books.

Four great nonfiction books to read aloud:

Nonfiction read aloud
Caitlin chose a penpal in Zimbabwe, because it sounded more exotic than countries in Europe, a decision that changed her life.  She began an unlikely friendship with Martin - unlikely because of the distance, huge socioeconomic differences, and that their friendship had to be maintained by writing letters.
On paper.
With a pen or pencil.
As unlikely as that seems in today's world, they exchanged letters for six years, learning a lot about each other and themselves in the process.  Chapters alternate between Caitlin's and Martin's points of view.
Students will be pleased with the end of the book; it might cause them to wonder, maybe even do, something to help others. 
Nonfiction read aloud
This is the story of eight men who (like Amelia Earhart, my students reminded me) couldn't find the island they were supposed to land on in the Pacific Ocean.  On board their plane was VIP Eddie Rickenbacker (a name I wasn't familiar with, but a hero of both world wars) The plot moves more slowly because the men spent a lot of time in rafts on the ocean, but their struggles with hunger, thirst, and sharks, made it a compelling read.
A few girls started to get impatient with the book midway through ("Are they going to survive?") but most students stayed pretty glued.
This is one of my favorite books because Malala feels so approachable in her book.  She's young and she, like most students, has strong opinions about school.  However, she nearly lost her life for expressing those opinions aloud.  Continuing to champion the rights of girls to have access to education, she went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
I have used this book in multiple ways over the years, including with small literature circles.  You can find the novel study for students to delve deeply into the book, here.
                                         Nonfiction read aloud
I read this book when it first came out and couldn't put it down!  This is the story of NASA and the African-American mathematicians who performed the computations that helped engineers create flying machines - airplanes and later, rocket ships. Sound pretty dry?  Not at all!  
These women worked at a time when most women didn't.  It is the story of civil rights, the Space Race, the Cold War, and gender rights. Powerfully told from the point of view of four women, its honesty and action will capture the interest of many students.  If you're interested, I created a novel study for students for this book also, which can be found here.

If you like, you can purchase the books through the links below.  You don't pay any extra for it but I earn a few pennies as an amazon affiliate.

Have a great week!


  1. These look great. Some other good ones would be "A Long Walk to Water" and anything by Ruta Sepetys, if the kids are older.

    1. You're right! I'm hoping to read A Long Walk to Water with my students as part of the Global Read Aloud this Fall. Susan Bartoletti Campbell also writes some excellent nonfiction for the middle grades.