“Dangerous” Nonfiction

We all want our kids to be safe.  We teach them to avoid dangerous situations that could be harmful to their health and well-being.  Books are a great way to experience things vicariously, so with the following books, students are encouraged to race towards deadly fires, fly and perform stunts on experimental aircrafts, and enter war zones with trained dogs…all from the comfort and safety of their couch (or wherever else they like to read!)

Fighting Fire! Ten of the Deadliest Fires in American History and How We Fought Them by Michael L. Cooper. 9780805097146. 2014. Gr. 6-8.

This book chronicles ten of the most destructive fires in our history, from Colonial Boston to the tragedy of 9/11.  Told in a tense and riveting style, the tales of disaster are brought to life.   Readers learn the techniques that firefighters used at the time, and are able to see how improvements to techniques evolved.  Sometimes even the best of intentions still wasn’t enough; for example, the Chicago Fire Department had recently made huge improvements to their firefighting infrastructure.  They had created a state-of-the-art waterworks building and revolutionary horse-drawn fire engines, but this was not enough to stop the great fire of 1871. Each story is accompanied by fascinating historical photographs. This book would be a great addition to a history or social studies classroom.

Navy Seal Dogs: My Tale of Training Canines for Combat by Mike Ritland. 9781250041821. 2013. Gr. 7-12.

Today, Mike Ritland is a burly ex-Navy SEAL, but growing up, he was a scrawny kid who was prone to bullying.  He improved himself physically, and enlisted in the Navy at age eighteen.  After becoming a SEAL, and seeing an explosives-detecting dog in action in Iraq, he found his calling.  He had always loved dogs, so becoming a trainer of dogs that assist soldiers in combat was a natural fit.  The book covers the rigorous training the dogs go through, and demonstrates their extreme loyalty and bond to their human counterparts.

The Rocket Man by David Darling. 9781780742977. 2013. Gr. 9-Adult.

Recently, when Felix Baumgartner made his historic record-breaking skydive from 128,000 feet live on TV, our entire family sat riveted.  I remember seeing the on-screen monitor of Baumgartner’s heart rate, and thinking that my heart rate was elevated as well!  In this book, we read about brave people like Joseph Kittenger, who in 1957 skydived from over 100,000 feet, a record that was not to be broken until Baumgartner did it in 2013.  Other adrenaline junkies from the past are highlighted, from the Montgolfier brothers (inventors of the manned hot air balloon), to modern-day BASE jumpers. This title works in some interesting history while being a great choice for anyone with a daredevil’s spirit.

So, everyone get a little bit reckless, and get these heart-pounding books into the hands of some kids!

RyanBlogger: Ryan H.