I know sometimes it can be a struggle to get kids excited about nonfiction. Even I find myself more drawn to the escapism of fiction. But our world is fascinating and complex and I find that the only way to fully understand it is by engaging with nonfiction. 

This month I've chosen to highlight eight books that showcase the stories of extraordinary women. These books cover a range of issues related to gender equality, anti-racism, socioeconomic differences, and more.

Let's dive in. 

I Am a Girl from Africa by Elizabeth Nyamayaro is the memoir of an African girl whose near-death experience sparked a lifelong dedication to humanitarian work that helps bring change across the world. When a severe drought devastated her village in Zimbabwe as a young girl, a United Nations worker gave her a bowl of porridge. After surviving this near-death experience, Elizabeth was activated to help others the same way. She went on to be a senior adviser for United Nations and becoming an instrumental figure in global activism. 

Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor's Fight for Fairness: When Laura Coates joined the Department of Justice as a prosecutor, she wanted to advocate for the most vulnerable among us. But she quickly realized that even with the best intentions, “the pursuit of justice creates injustice.” On the front lines of our legal system, Coates saw how Black communities are policed differently.

Broke in America by Colleen Shaddox and Joanne Samuel Goldblum explores why a large number of Americans struggle financially and don't have equitable access to necessities like food, water, and housing. This book provides the "why" nearly 40 million people in the U.S. live below the poverty line. But more importantly, it provides a "what," with actionable steps in each chapter readers can use to combat poverty—both nationwide and in our local communities. 

Surviving the White Gaze by Rebecca Carroll is a memoir shedding light on what it's like to be the only Black person in a rural New Hampshire town. Adopted by free-spirit, artistic parents, her childhood was very loving, but she still felt isolated. When she meets her birth mother, a white woman, her identity continues to be called into question. Rebecca travels from city to city, going through toxic relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, and an eating disorder all while searching for her racial identity. 

Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience: After a lifetime of following orders from her strict Indian parents, Anuradha Bhagwati abandons her grad school career in the Ivy League to join the Marines. Once training begins, Anuradha realizes as a bisexual woman of color in the military, she must confront misogyny, racism, and injustice perpetrated by those in power.Once her service concluded in 2004, Anuradha vowed to take to task the very leaders and traditions that cast such a dark cloud over her time in the Marines. Her efforts result in historic change, including the lifting of the ban on women from pursuing combat roles in the military.

A Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande is the memoir of a first-generation Latina university student who dreams of becoming a writer and building a new life. As an immigrant in an unfamiliar country, with an indifferent mother and abusive father, Reyna had few resources at her disposal. Taking refuge in words, Reyna’s love of reading and writing propels her to rise above until she achieves the impossible and is accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Once I Was You by Maria Hinojosa shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the South Side of Chicago. She offers a personal and illuminating account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also sanctioned willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable population


Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning®, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, and high school and has worked as a district level leader and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel, The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.