What are some good longer works of contemporary nonfiction that would be appropriate to teach in high school?What are some good longer works of contemporary nonfiction that would be appropriate to...

What are some good longer works of contemporary nonfiction that would be appropriate to teach in high school?

What are some good longer works of contemporary nonfiction that would be appropriate to teach in high school?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Some of these works are not long, so maybe you just mean book-length?  I suggest pairing the nonfiction selection with a fiction selection, and possibly something that coincides with history or science or some other subject.  This will make the book more meaningful.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Have them read Decision Points, the memoir of his presidency by George Bush.  Even Bush's predecessor, Bill Clinton, has praised it.  Reading any of the works of modern presidents may assist students in an awareness of how perceptions by the news media differ from the perceptions of those who hold public office.  If the students are bright, Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man is also very worthwhile reading as are the writings of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, all works that can offer interesting comparisons to works of contemporary politicians. 

On another note, there is a worthy book entitled, In Defense of Unhappiness which explains how sorrow and anguish work positively to effect change in people's lives.  For instance, after reading Aldous Huxley's Brave New World in which people are kept content with a drug called soma, students understand the point of this book that it is human to be discontent, and it is through discontent that change is effected.

MaudlinStreet's profile pic

MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted on

James McBride's The Color of Water is another excellent memoir, and I agree with the suggestion of On Writing. Also, while these are not very long, Malcolm Gladwell's writings are thought-provoking and quite interesting to read. I've had several students enjoy Blink and apply it in AP Language essays.

kamiegoldstein's profile pic

kamiegoldstein | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

I second Tuesday's With Morrie.  It is a book that sparks relevent discussion on many levels with various ages.

As a writing teacher I'd also add Stephen King's On Writing, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, and Lynn Truss' Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

All three are as enjoyable to read as they are helpful.

Great suggestions! Thank you very much.

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I second Tuesday's With Morrie.  It is a book that sparks relevent discussion on many levels with various ages.

As a writing teacher I'd also add Stephen King's On Writing, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, and Lynn Truss' Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

All three are as enjoyable to read as they are helpful.

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Elie Wiesel's Night is often already on school reading lists; however, if it's not, I'd recommend it even though it isn't particularly long.  Any other biography or autobiography might fit, as well, such as that of Frederick Douglas or Malcolm X. I really enjoyed The Zookeeper's Wife, and others have had good experiences with Tuesdays with Morrie.  It's something different, but The Last Lecture has a lot of interesting possibilities connected to it. I thoroughly enjoyed Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, but it does have some elements which might make it difficult to read in its entirety in a non-AP classroom.  I commend you for wanting to tackle the dreaded genre of non-fiction. 

teachertaylor's profile pic

teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, published in 1965, would be a great choice.  The book arguably defines the genre of literary nonfiction and rightly so.  Capote explores the details surrounding the murder of the Clutter family in Kansas; Capote not only explores the murder, he goes into great detail on the lives and character of the members of the Clutter family and their killer Perry Smith.  Parts of the book read just like a novel, as Capote uses writing techniques that at the time were associated with only fiction.  From a study of the book, students will be able to explore universal themes such as the role of fate and the issue of "nature vs. nurture" when determining someone's fate.

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I would say that any book on history or political history that might serve to not only enlighten students but be somewhat controversial to allow for more than one opinion. Some great biographies are out there on political figures and former presidents that students can read and gain some valuable insight and knowledge.

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