2017 Favorites – Nonfiction

My favorite of the nonfiction books I reviewed in 2017.

Yup, I’m not posting this until well into 2018.  In 2017 I reviewed 98 books (plus 10 board books) and so many of them were so good.  It took me a month just to narrow it down this far…  I just love all the books!

Here were our 14 favorite nonfiction books in 2017.

Picture Book Non-Fiction Top 4

Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome.  The early life of the second ever black world champion in any sport.

Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee, illustrated by Naomi Bardoff.  The best book I’ve seen for talking to kids about gender identity.

Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told by Walter Dean Meyers, illustrated by Bonnie Christensen.  The life story of this activist and journalist in a picture book.

Mission to Space by John Herrington.  Beautifully made autobiography of a Chickasaw astronaut.

Middle Grade Nonfiction Top 3

This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (Not Disability) by Aaron Philip, with Tonya Bolden.  I keep coming back to this story about disability, immigration, poverty, and racism as one every middle school student should read.

Two Tickets to Freedom: The True Story of William and Ellen Craft, Fugitive Slaves by Florence B. Freedman, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats.  By far the best book I’ve seen on this couple yet, this covers their life after the publication of their book.  A middle grade read that adults will enjoy too.

The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano, adapted by Ann Cameron.  The story of this African prince turned slave is nicely adapted from the flowery language of his autobiography while still retaining the content and flavor of the original.

Chapter Book Non-Fiction Top 3 … Plus 4

Hidden Figures:  The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly.  MY FAVORITE READ OF THE YEAR!

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love, and So Much More by Janet Mock.  A close second is this autobiography/commentary by a transgender mixed black/Hawaiian woman on gender, race, identity politics, and more.

Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II by Roger Daniels.  Another (surprise) favorite was this book about the Japanese-American imprisonment which actually was incredibly comprehensive yet readable.

Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, a report of the Equal Justice Initiative.  A difficult yet important read, this free ebook was one of the more memorable books of 2017.

Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (New and Expanded Edition) by James H. Jones.  It’s hard to put this on a ‘favorites’ list, but it was such balanced and well written journalism that I count it as one of the best books I read in 2017.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.  Another surprise, this discount bin find has stuck with me as a unique story of hope in Taliban-occupied Kabul.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman.  Another book on intersectional medicine, this oldie but goodie is a reread that attempts to examine a difficult case from two very different angles.


What are your favorite nonfiction reads?  Have you read Hidden Figures yet?

Author: colorfulbookreviews

I work in a library by day and parent the rest of the time. I am passionate about good books representing the full spectrum of human diversity for every age group and reading level. This blog is my attempt to help parents, educators, and librarians find the best children's books authored by or featuring characters of color.

4 thoughts on “2017 Favorites – Nonfiction”

  1. Such great picks!! I haven’t read Hidden Figures yet, I know I need to! I read and loved Spirit Catches You last year too, I was happy to see it lived up to the years’ worth of hype I’d heard about it! Dressmaker of Khair Khana is new to me and sounds fantastic. I love those bargain bin finds that turn out to be extraordinary. Excellent post, so many great titles!

    Liked by 1 person

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