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Best & Brightest Teen Nonfiction 2020

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This Best & Brightest list was created by Denver Public Library staff to celebrate our favorite recently published teen books. Enjoy!

More of the Best & Brightest Books of 2020

The New Queer Conscience
Eli, Adam
8th grade & up | Nonfiction. "In The New Queer Conscience, LGBTQIA+ activist Adam Eli argues the urgent need for queer responsibility — that queers anywhere are responsible for queers everywhere." --From the publisher. Readers will find a welcoming and uplifting space in this short but sweet call for queer inclusion, community and love. Adam Eli makes a compassionate, supportive and open-hearted argument for a world-wide responsibility towards queer people by emphasizing that no one is alone and that radical empathy is possible.
You Too?
Gurtler, Janet
9th grade & up| Nonfiction. "When #MeToo went viral, Janet Gurtler was among the millions of people who began to reflect on her past experiences. Things she had reluctantly accepted—male classmates groping her at recess, harassment at work—came back to her in startling clarity. She needed teens to know what she had not: that no young person should be subject to sexual assault, or made to feel unsafe, less than or degraded. You Too? was born out of that need." --From the publisher. Fueled by the #MeToo movement, 25 survivors tell their personal and powerful stories. The diversity in identities and backgrounds throughout the text highlights the sad reality that abuse is all around us. The author peppers resources and trigger warnings in between the stories to ease the pain of the difficult, yet necessary, read.
This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work
Jewell, Tiffany. Illustrated by Aurélia Durand
7th grade & up | Nonfiction. "Gain a deeper understanding of your anti-racist self. The book will spark introspection, reveal the origins of racism that we are still experiencing, and give you the courage and power to undo it. Each chapter builds on the previous one as you learn more about yourself and racial oppression." --From the publisher. The brief history lessons and personal anecdotes featured in just twenty chapters expose readers to issues of identity and solidarity while providing thoughtful actions to dismantle racism. The colorful, contemporary aesthetic of digital illustration adds to the interactive, introspective activities to make complex issues accessible, inclusive and empowering.
All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto
Johnson, George M.
10th Grade & Up| Nonfiction. "In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys." --From the publisher. George M. Johnson’s voice showed strength when the world wasn’t always kind to him. Addressing the intersectionality of his Black and queer identities, he discusses toxic masculinity, sexuality and consent throughout his experiences. His journey reveals what kind of world he envisions for young Black queer youth.
Imaginary Borders: A Pocket Change Collective
Martinez, Xiuhtezcatl, with contributions by Russel Mendell
7th Grade & Up | Nonfiction. "In this personal, moving essay, environmental activist and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez uses his art and his activism to show that climate change is a human issue that can’t be ignored." --From the publisher. Xiuhtezcatl is a great example of a young person with a big voice who knows when and where to use it. His passion shines through his art and his thoughtful words ignite a fire in the reader to be aware of the role they can play in environmental activism.
Out! How to Be Your Authentic Self
McKenna, Miles
8th grade & up| Nonfiction. "When Miles came out on his YouTube channel in 2015—then transitioned online in 2017—his aim was to help other teens navigate their identities and take charge of their own coming-out stories. From that experience comes Out!, the ultimate coming-out survival guide for anyone questioning or queer." --From the publisher. A wide variety of resources fill this relatable book including recipes for gay cake and chalk blasters, tips on coming out to friends and family, a guide for soothing anxiety, and even a few short history lessons. The addition of many pictures and fan art ensures that the informative text doesn’t overwhelm the reader.
You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People
Rusch, Elizabeth
8th grade & up | Nonfiction. "The political landscape has never been so tumultuous: issues with the electoral college, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and a lack of representation in the polls and in our leadership have led to Americans of all ages asking, How did we get here? The power to change lies with the citizens of this great country—especially teens! Rather than pointing fingers at people and political parties, You Call This Democracy? looks at flaws in the system—and offers a real way out of the mess we are in." --From the publisher. An informative read for everyone who slept through the day gerrymandering was the subject in class. This book acknowledges the flaws in our government while also providing ample ways in which readers can be the change they wish to see. Plenty of picture breaks makes the text approachable.