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Vocabulary Lists

Non-Fiction

CollectionWords of WisdomA Collection of Inspiring Advice and Life Lessons
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  • 20 Words"This Is Water" by David Foster Wallace
  • 30 WordsOn Your Mark, Get Set, Commence Your Life!
  • 25 Words"Living Like Weasels" by Annie Dillard
  • 20 WordsSteve Jobs's Commencement Address (2005)
  • 27 WordsPresident Obama's Commencement Address (2016)
  • 20 WordsStarting Your New Life: Inspiring Words from Commencement Speeches
CollectionWar StoriesReal-Life Accounts of Conflict and Courage
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CollectionPicture ThisEssential Works of Graphic Nonfiction
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  1. Hitler YouthGrowing Up in Hitler's ShadowSusan Campbell Bartoletti
    This nonfiction work tells the story of the Hilterjugend — a group of German youths who were indoctrinated with Nazi...
  2. EndgameBobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall — from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of MadnessFrank Brady
    Biographer Frank Brady chronicles the meteoric rise and astounding fall of chess prodigy Bobby Fischer.
  3. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the WorldThe Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the EnduranceJennifer Armstrong
    This nonfiction work tells the amazing survival story of Ernest Shackleton and his crew after their ship Endurance sank...
  4. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous IdeaCharles Seife
    Science journalist Charles Seife discusses the history of the number zero, from its origin as an Eastern philosophical...
  5. Mountains Beyond MountainsThe Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the WorldTracy Kidder
    Adapted for young readers, this nonfiction work documents Dr. Paul Farmer's mission to improve health outcomes around...
  6. Death on the River of DoubtTheodore Roosevelt's Amazon AdventureSamantha Seiple
    This true story chronicles Theodore Roosevelt's 1913 expedition into the Amazon jungle with a team of men including his...
  7. 1491New Revelations of the Americas Before ColumbusCharles C. Mann
    This nonfiction book presents research about the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere before the arrival of...
  8. Disability Visibility17 First-Person Stories for Today (Adapted for Young Readers)Alice Wong
    Published ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, this collection of 17 essays presents...
  9. Ambushed!The Assassination Plot Against President GarfieldGail Jarrow
    In this nonfiction book, Gail Jarrow chronicles the life of James Garfield, detailing Garfield's early life, his rise to...
  10. The Woman All Spies FearCode Breaker Elizebeth Smith Friedman and Her Hidden LifeAmy Butler Greenfield
    In this biography, Amy Butler Greenfield tells the story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, a Shakespeare enthusiast who...
  11. Fannie Never FlinchedOne Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union RightsMary Cronk Farrell
    This nonfiction book chronicles the life Fannie Sellins, a garment worker and labor organizer who was tragically...
  12. This Promise of ChangeOne Girl’s Story in the Fight for School EqualityJo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy
    In this autobiographical work, Jo Ann Allen Boyce recounts her experience of being one of the first Black children to...

Non-Fiction Vocabulary Lists:

"The Origin of Species by Natural Selection" by Charles Darwin: Essential Words

Charles Darwin expounded his theories on evolution in "The Origin of Species by Natural Selection." Learn the essential terms from his enduring work, originally published in 1859.
13 Words

"Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell

George Orwell reflects on imperialism as he recounts an incident that occurred when he was a police officer in Burma. Here are links to our lists for other works by George Orwell: 1984, Animal Farm, Politics and the English Language
30 Words

"Mother Tongue" by Amy Tan

In this essay, novelist Amy traces her development as a writer by reflecting on the ways she and her mother use English differently. Here are links to our lists for The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.
20 Words

"Nature" by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This 19th-century transcendentalist essay argues that spending time in nature helps people resist conformity and become their truest selves. Read the full text here. Here are links to our lists for other works by Ralph Waldo Emerson: Self-Reliance, The Young American
30 Words

"Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans" by Don Brown

This acclaimed nonfiction book tells the story of Hurricane Katrina in graphic form. Here is a link to our list for Unwanted by Don Brown.
40 Words

"Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell

In this essay, George Orwell explores the ways language can be used to conceal truth and encourage conformity of thought. Here are links to our lists for other works by George Orwell: Animal Farm, 1984, "Shooting an Elephant"
40 Words

"We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball" by Kadir Nelson

This engaging history of Negro League Baseball details the obstacles and prejudices African-American baseball players faced in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.
40 Words

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