Nonfiction has become a more important part of English/Language Arts classrooms over the past decade, and students are finding they're quite interested in these true stories.

Here are our top 10 nonfiction books for the 2014 – 2015 school year:

In Cold Blood

We're starting with a controversial pick. In Cold Blood's veracity has been called into question before. Author Truman Capote called it "immaculately factual," but critics have noted inaccuracies — some of which they even call falsehoods — in the book.

You might use this book to discuss the differences between fiction and nonfiction. Where do you draw the line between the two? Can reporting ever truly be objective — and is it a good thing if it is?

Fast Food Nation

A work of journalism that explores the American fast food industry and its effects on American society.

Fast Food Nation covers a great deal of ground in its 288 pages: unacceptable conditions in meat packaging plants, the chemicals that make fast food taste good (and keep you coming back for more), marketing schemes targeted at children, and other topics that might make some students look at fast food in a different light.

The Freedom Writers Diary

A group of "at-risk" students learn important lessons from two books about people's experiences in the face of evil — ​Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl​ being one of them — and use these books to examine discrimination and other forms of injustice they've experienced.

It's uplifting stuff (all of these "at-risk" students ended up going to college), but this book does have some sexually explicit material and it also contains some racial slurs. Check it out for yourself before bringing it into the classroom.

Friday Night Lights

A story about a small-town high school football team making a run at the Texas state championship . . . at least, that's what Friday Night Lights begins as.

It soon becomes an examination of that small town and its culture, including its problems with racism and its misplaced educational priorities.

A fascinating read with some very colorful characters.

An American Plague

An American Plague is the true story of the devastating yellow fever outbreak of 1793 in Philadelphia. This outbreak caused thousands of people to flee the city, including President George Washington.

Author Jim Murphy describes the disease, explains medical practices of the day, and puts together a mesmerizing narrative.

You could teach Laurie Halse Anderson's novel Fever 1793 in conjunction with this book.

Into Thin Air

In 1996, eight climbers attempting to summit Mt. Everest were killed when a brutal blizzard blew over the mountain. Jon Krakauer was there. This is his first-hand account.

A terrifying, riveting read that transports you to one of the most inhospitable and deadly places on Earth.


John Hersey interviews six survivors of the horrific atomic bombing of Hiroshima. This book was, for many, a revelation about the terrifying power of nuclear weapons and their lasting effects.

Hiroshima started ethical discussions about the dangers of nuclear power that continue to this day. It will do the same for your students.

Black Like Me

Published in 1961, Black Like Me is John Howard Griffin's account of traveling through several Southern states while disguised as a black man.

Griffin wrote the book to show others the terrible and inhumane treatment blacks were subjected to by whites during this period, in which racial segregation was the norm.

The Hot Zone

The recent devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 2,000 people to date. The Hot Zone tells readers about the history of filoviruses (of which Ebola is one), safety procedures, the effects of the viruses, and more.

Graphic descriptions of the effects of these viruses may disgust some readers — check the book out first.

There Are No Children Here

Alex Kotlowitz follows the lives of two boys, Lafayette and Pharoah, growing up in Chicago.

The book explores the effects of domestic violence, gang cultures, crime, drugs, and horrible living conditions (thanks to corrupt city officials) on the lives of Chicago's children.