Adapted for Young People

For the most part, we focus on fiction, but there are many excellent nonfiction books out there for young adults. I’ve been enjoying the trend of having young people’s editions of previously published nonfiction for adults. Here are a few you might want to seek out soon:

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz – Adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese
Beacon Press
[My Review]

Going beyond the story of America as a country “discovered” by a few brave men in the “New World,” Indigenous human rights advocate Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reveals the roles that settler colonialism and policies of American Indian genocide played in forming our national identity.

The original academic text is fully adapted by renowned curriculum experts Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza, for middle-grade and young adult readers to include discussion topics, archival images, original maps, recommendations for further reading, and other materials to encourage students, teachers, and general readers to think critically about their own place in history.

Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice by Bryan Stevenson
Delacorte Press

In this very personal work–adapted from the original #1 bestseller, which the New York Times calls “as compelling as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so”–acclaimed lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson offers a glimpse into the lives of the wrongfully imprisoned and his efforts to fight for their freedom.

Stevenson’s story is one of working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society–the poor, the wrongly convicted, and those whose lives have been marked by discrimination and marginalization. Through this adaptation, young people of today will find themselves called to action and compassion in the pursuit of justice.

Proceeds of this book will go to charity to help in Stevenson’s important work to benefit the voiceless and the vulnerable as they attempt to navigate the broken U.S. justice system.

It’s Trevor Noah: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Adapted for Young Readers) by Trevor Noah
Delacourte Press

Trevor Noah shares his story of growing up in South Africa, with a black South African mother and a white European father at a time when it was against the law for a mixed-race child like him to exist. But he did exist–and from the beginning, the often-misbehaved Trevor used his smarts and humor to navigate a harsh life under a racist government.

We Are Not Yet Equal: Understanding Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson & Tonya Bolden with a foreword by Nic Stone
Bloomsbury YA

Carol Anderson’s White Rage took the world by storm, landing on the New York Times bestseller list and best book of the year lists from New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Chicago Review of Books. It launched her as an in-demand commentator on contemporary race issues for national print and television media and garnered her an invitation to speak to the Democratic Congressional Caucus. This compelling young adult adaptation brings her ideas to a new audience.

When America achieves milestones of progress toward full and equal black participation in democracy, the systemic response is a consistent racist backlash that rolls back those wins. We Are Not Yet Equal examines five of these moments: The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with Jim Crow laws; the promise of new opportunities in the North during the Great Migration was limited when blacks were physically blocked from moving away from the South; the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 led to laws that disenfranchised millions of African American voters and a War on Drugs that disproportionally targeted blacks; and the election of President Obama led to an outburst of violence including the death of black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri as well as the election of Donald Trump.


And one I’m looking forward to in March, 2020:

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism–and antiracism–in America

This is NOT a history book.
This is a book about the here and now.
A book to help us better understand why we are where we are.
A book about race.

The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.

Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas–and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.


If you know of more adaptations we should watch for, please share titles in the comments.

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