YA nonfiction continues to be one of the underdogs of the literary world. There are few awards dedicated to honoring the work, and as much as some of us have rallied for Goodreads to make it a category for their annual readers’ choice awards, they haven’t (and I suspect they will not). It also doesn’t get the same social media attention as fiction does. All of that is unfortunate, especially because it is both a growing and wonderful arena of books. We know teens are big nonfiction readers, and books written with them as an audience in mind matters. Because I keep track and read YA nonfiction, I find it worthwhile to roundup the upcoming new releases as much as I can to give these books a boost they might not otherwise see in “most anticipated” and similar roundups. That all said, let’s take a look at some of the early 2023 YA nonfiction you’ll want on your radar.
These are all YA nonfiction books hitting shelves between January and the end of April. I’ve pulled descriptions from Amazon. As usual, because it is harder to track down all of the nonfiction being published for young adults, this list is far from comprehensive. It leans more heavily on narrative nonfiction than more of the how-to style nonfiction. If you know of other YA nonfiction hitting shelves in the first few months of the year not included, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Usual disclaimers apply here that one of the tricky parts of YA nonfiction is that many are published for 10-14 or 12-18, so some of these titles might lean more toward middle grade than YA.
Early 2023 YA Nonfiction
Study after study shows that women are far happier discussing virtually anything else but bank balances, and this lack of confidence in openly discussing money matters is crippling the female population financially. Women negotiate less in salary discussions, are excessively cautious and risk averse when it comes to investing, and lack the general awareness around how to optimize retirement savings to guarantee a comfortable retirement.
With clear explanations and empowering text by experienced financial expert Davinia Tomlinson, you’ll learn that establishing a positive relationship with money as an adult must be cultivated in childhood.
Cash is Queen explains in a tone that’s relatable, fresh, and fun, everything a young girl needs to know about saving, spending, and stashing her cash, helping girls everywhere establish positive financial habits that will last a lifetime.
Non-patronizing or preachy, this book is essential reading for young girls everywhere as they enter adulthood and begin the journey of discovery in identifying the mark they would like to leave in the world.
In this extraordinary collection, the award-winning poet Crystal Simone Smith gives voice to the mournful dead, their lives unjustly lost to violence, and to the grieving chorus of protestors in today’s Black Lives Matter movement, in search of resilience and hope.
With poems found within the text of George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo, Crystal Simone Smith embarks on an uncompromising exploration of collective mourning and crafts a masterwork that resonates far beyond the page. These poems are visually stark, a gathering of gripping verses that unmasks a dialogue of tragic truths―the stories of lives taken unjustly and too soon.
Bold and deeply affecting, Dark Testament is a remarkable reckoning with our present moment, a call to action, and a plea for a more just future.
Along with the poems, Dark Testament includes a stirring introduction by the author that speaks to the content of the poetry, a Q&A with George Saunders, and a full-color photo-insert that commemorates victims of unlawful killings with photographs of memorials that have been created in their honor.
Female, Gifted, and Black: Awesome Art and Literary Pioneers Who Changed the World (Black Historical Figures, Women in Black History) by
Learn about amazing women in Black history. Whether you learned about these women in school or not, these Black historical figures changed society and inspired future generations. Read all about these powerful women in black history such as Amanda Gorman, Alice Walker, Warsan Shire, Eartha Kitt, Gloria Hendry, Issa Rae, Pearl Bailey, Shonda Rhimes and so many more. From artists to writers, models to dancers, Female, Gifted and Black inspires you to be a trailblazer with these stories of strength, perseverance, and talent.
Dive into this Black history book. Driven by female empowerment, this collection of biographies tells the unique stories of these powerful women in Black history who made a difference. From artists to activists, Female, Gifted and Black showcases a plethora of passions and skills to prove that Black is beautiful. These mighty women in Black history prove that your passions and drive are the most powerful things you have.
Inside Female, Gifted and Black, you’ll learn to:
- Recognize the importance of honoring Black intelligence, willpower, and passion
- Celebrate the strength of these revolutionary women in Black history
- Channel your inner womanhood
- Discover powerful stories of accomplishments achieved by Black historical figures
In the early 1920s, a Red Scare gripped America. Many of those targeted were Italians, Eastern Europeans, and other immigrants.
When an armed robbery resulting in the death of two people broke headlines in Massachusetts, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti―both Italian immigrants―were quick to be accused.
A heated trial ensued, but through it all, the two men maintained their innocence. The controversial case quickly rippled past borders as it became increasingly clear that Sacco and Vanzetti were fated for a death sentence. Protests sprang up around the world to fight for their lives.
Learn the tragic history we dare not repeat in Doomed: Sacco, Vanzetti, and the End of the American Dream, an action-packed, fast-paced nonfiction book filled with issues that still resonate today.
How to Be a (Young) Antiracist : How to Be a (Young) Antiracist by Ibrim X. Kendi and Nic Stone (1/31)
The New York Times bestseller How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi is shaping the way a generation thinks about race and racism. How to be a (Young) Antiracist is a dynamic reframing of the concepts shared in the adult book, with young adulthood front and center. Aimed at listeners 12 and up and co-authored by award-winning children’s book author Nic Stone, How to be a (Young) Antiracist empowers teen listeners to help create a more just society. Antiracism is a journey—and now young adults will have a map to carve their own path. Kendi and Stone have revised this work to provide anecdotes and data that speaks directly to the experiences and concerns of younger listeners, encouraging them to think critically and build a more equitable world in doing so.
Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game by Colin Kaepernick, Eve L. Ewing, Orlando Caicedo (Illustrated by) (3/7)
A high school senior at a crossroads in life and heavily scouted by colleges and Major League Baseball (MLB), Colin has a bright future ahead of him as a highly touted prospect. Everyone, from his parents to his teachers and coaches, is in agreement on his future. Everyone but him.
Colin isn’t excited about baseball. In the words of five-time all-star MLB player Adam Jones, “Baseball is a white man’s sport.” He looks up to athletes like Allen Iverson: talented, hyper-competitive, unapologetically Black, and dominating their sports while staying true to themselves. College football looks a lot more fun than sleeping on hotel room floors in the minor leagues of baseball. But Colin doesn’t have a single offer to play football. Yet. This touching YA graphic novel memoir explores the story of how a young change-maker learned to find himself, make his own way, and never compromise.
A debut YA graphic memoir about a Korean-American girl’s coming-of-age story―and a coming home story―set between a New Jersey suburb and Seoul, South Korea.
Ever since Deborah (Jung-Jin) Lee emigrated from South Kora to the United States, she’s felt her otherness.
For a while, her English wasn’t perfect. Her teachers can’t pronounce her Korean name. Her face and her eyes―especially her eyes―feel wrong.
In high school, everything gets harder. Friendships change and end, she falls behind in classes, and fights with her mom escalate. Caught in limbo, with nowhere safe to go, Deb finds her mental health plummeting, resulting in a suicide attempt.
But Deb is resilient and slowly heals with the help of art and self-care, guiding her to a deeper understanding of her heritage and herself.
This stunning debut graphic memoir features page after page of gorgeous, evocative art, perfect for Tillie Walden fans. It’s a cross section of the Korean-American diaspora and mental health, a moving and powerful read in the vein of Hey, Kiddo and The Best We Could Do.
Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself by Monica Edinger, Lesley Younge (3/7)
Millions of Africans were enslaved during the transatlantic slave trade, but few recorded their personal experiences. Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano is perhaps the most well known of the autobiographies that exist. Using this narrative as a primary source text, authors Monica Edinger and Lesley Younge share Equiano’s life story in “found verse,” supplemented with annotations to give readers historical context. This poetic approach provides interesting analysis and synthesis, helping readers to better understand the original text. Follow Equiano from his life in Africa as a child to his enslavement at a young age, his travels across the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, his liberation, and his life as a free man.
Hidden Systems: Water, Electricity, the Internet, and the Secrets Behind the Systems We Use Every Day by Dan Nott (3/14)
We use water, electricity, and the internet every day–but how do they actually work? And what’s the plan to keep them running for years to come? This nonfiction science graphic novel takes readers on a journey from how the most essential systems were developed to how they are implemented in our world today and how they will be used in the future.
What was the first message sent over the internet? How much water does a single person use every day? How was the electric light invented?
For every utility we use each day, there’s a hidden history–a story of intrigue, drama, humor, and inequity. This graphic novel provides a guided tour through the science of the past–and reveals how the decisions people made while inventing and constructing early technology still affect the way people use it today.
Full of art, maps, and diagrams, Hidden Systems is a thoughtful, humorous exploration of the history of science and what needs to be done now to change the future.
A powerful biography of Michi Weglyn, the Japanese American fashion designer whose activism fueled a movement for recognition of and reparations for America’s World War II concentration camps.
The daughter of Japanese immigrants, Michi Nishiura Weglyn was confined in Arizona’s Gila River concentration camp during World War II. She later became a costume designer for Broadway and worked as the wardrobe designer for some of the most popular television personalities of the ’50s and early ’60s.
In 1968, after a televised statement by the US Attorney General that concentration camps in America never existed, Michi embarked on an eight-year solo quest through libraries and the National Archives to expose and account for the existence of the World War II camps where she and other Japanese Americans were imprisoned. Her research became a major catalyst for passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, in which the US government admitted that its treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II was wrong.
Thoroughly researched and intricately told, Michi Changes History is a masterful portrayal of one woman’s fight for the truth―and for justice.
Rising Class : How Three First-Generation College Students Conquered Their First Year by Jennifer Miller (3/28)
This eye-opening YA narrative nonfiction follows three first-generation college students as they navigate their first year―and ultimately a global pandemic.
Making it through the first year of college is tough. What makes it even tougher is being the first in your family to do so. Who can you turn to when you need advice?
Rising Class follows three first-generation freshmen, Briani, Conner, and Jacklynn, as they not only experience their first semester of college, but the COVID-19 pandemic that turned their Spring semester upside down. From life in the ivy league to classes at a community college, this nonfiction book follows these students’ challenges, successes, and dreams as they tackle their first year of college and juggle responsibilities to their families back home.
Eye-opening and poignant, Jennifer Miller writes a narrative nonfiction story that speaks to new beginnings, coming of age, and perseverance.
This book tells the true stories of five brave teens fleeing their home countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guinea, on their own, traveling through unknown and unfriendly places, and ultimately crossing into the US to find refuge and seek asylum. Based on extensive interviews with teen refugees, lawyers, caseworkers, and activists, Tracy White shines a light on five individual kids from among the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who enter the U.S. each year. In stark black and white illustrations, she helps us understand why some young people would literally risk their lives to seek safety in the US. Each one of them has been backed into a corner where emigration to the US seems like their only hope.
In this bilingual, inventive, and heartfelt debut, graphic novel talent Christine Suggs explores a trip they took to Mexico to visit family, embracing and rebelling against their heritage and finding a sense of belonging.
Sixteen-year-old Christine takes their first solo trip to Mexico to spend a few weeks with their grandparents and tía. At first, Christine struggles to connect with family they don’t yet share a language with. Seeing the places their mom grew up—the school she went to, the café where she had her first date with their father—Christine becomes more and more aware of the generational differences in their family.
Soon Christine settles into life in Mexico, eating pan dulce, drawing what they see, and growing more comfortable with Spanish. But when Mom joins their trip, Christine’s two worlds collide. They feel homesick for Texas, struggle against traditions, and miss being able to speak to their mom without translating. Eventually, through exploring the impacts of colonialism in both Mexico and themselves, they find their place in their family and start to feel comfortable with their mixed identity.
Hédi Fried was nineteen when the Nazis arrested her family and transported them to Auschwitz. While there, apart from enduring the daily horrors at the concentration camp, she and her sister were forced into hard labor before being released at the end of the war.
After settling in Sweden, Hédi devoted her life to educating young people about the Holocaust. In her 90s, she decided to take the most common questions, and her answers, and turn them into a book so that children all over the world could understand what had happened.
This is a deeply human book that urges us never to forget and never to repeat.
Where to Start : A Survival Guide to Anxiety, Depression, and Other Mental Health Challenges by Mental Health America, illustrated by Gemma Correll (4/11)
So no one taught you about money, either? Let’s figure this me$$ out together.
In this illustrated, deeply unserious guide to money, Berna Anat—aka the Financial Hype Woman—freaks out her immigrant parents by doing the unthinkable: Talking about money. Loudly.
Because we’re done staying silent, anxious, and ashamed about our money. It’s time to join the party and finally learn about all the financial stuff that always felt too confusing. Stuff like:
- How to actually budget, save, and invest (but also make it fun)
- How our traumas shape our most toxic money habits, and how to create new patterns
- How to build wealth in a system designed to keep us broke
- How to use money to fund our biggest dreams—and change the world
No more keeping our money on mute. It’s time to grab the mic.