Teen Boys: Biography, Autobiography, Memoir

Derf Backderf. My Friend Dahmer. (Abrams ComicArts, March 2012)
Yeah. THAT Dahmer.

Georgia Bragg. How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. (Walker Books, 2011)
The bullet in President Garfield's back missed all vital organs and wouldn't have killed him. The
infection from the doctors' prying an eight inch trench into his back with their fingers trying to find the
bullet did him in. Einstein's skull and brain were poached by souvenier hunters before he could be
cremated. Napoleon, Caeser, Washington, here are all their bizarre ends.

Bill Bryson. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. (Broadway
Books, 1998)

Geoffrey Canada, adapted by Jamar Nicholas.
Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence.
(Beacon Press, 2010)
“Possessing a gun feels like the ultimate form of protection. On the streets of a big American city,
having this kind of personal protection may even seem to some to make sense.
But it doesn’t.
I know from personal experience.
In 1971, well before the explosion of handguns on the streets of New York City, I bought a handgun.”

Mary Morton Cowan. Captain Mac: The Life of Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer. (Calkins
Creek, 2010)
Dreaming of setting off into the unknown? Of braving the elements and the great open wilderness? So
did Donald MacMillan, and his travels into the heart of the arctic did as much to open up this last
frontier as his more famous friends and colleagues Robert Peary and Matthew Hanson. From an
orphan boy in Maine to the first expedition to reach the North Pole, this is the survival story of one of
the men to conquer the arctic.

Jack Gantos. Hole In My Life. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002)

Eric Greitens.
The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage. (Houghton Mifflin,
2012)
“Many of the guys grew up in a culture where they’d inherited ideals about manhood from beer
commercials and sit-coms. And whether the men they saw on TV were portrayed as overgrown and
selfish boys, or as wimps and goofballs, the men who came to [Navy SEAL training] knew – even if
they didn’t articulate it – that there had to be more to being a man than that. They wanted to earn
something, to pass through a test. They wanted to become strong and worthy.”

Dick Houston. Bulu: African Wonder Dog. (Random House, 2010)
A cute little dog story on a boys and books list? Well, this cute little story is true, and this dog adopts
warthogs and fights lions. This is more than a dog story, it is a safari into the wild African bush, with
hippos, giraffes, crocodiles, and real life adventure to spare.

Nawuth Keat. Alive in the Killing Fields: The True Story of Nawuth Keat, a Khmer Rouge Survivor.
(National Geographic Children's Books, 2009)
A true-life survival story written by someone who grew up in the midst of civil and outright war in a
land s distant and different as any in the world.

Denise Kiernan and Joseph D'Agnese. Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the
Men Who Signed the United States Constitution.
(Quirk, 2011)
Who needs (or wants) a textbook? Here in this little book is the history of not just the Constitution, but
slavery, the Revolutionary War, a Supreme Court justice that was throne in jail, and the little guy from
the little state that cast the one vote that made America possible.

Jon Krakauer. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. (Villard, 1997)

Michael Lewis.
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. (Norton, 2007)

Greg Mortenson.
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations One
School at a Time
. (Penguin, 2006)
There is a long history of adolescent boys reaching out to the adult shelves for their reading. This one
showed up as a top pick for adult men in a survey I recently conducted, and its story of heroism will
resonate with boys who want to know what they might do to make a better world.

Cal Ripken, Jr. and Mike Bryan. The Only Way I Know. (Viking, 1997)

Nancy I. Sanders.
Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times With 21 Activities. (Chicago
Review Press, 2012)
“Frederick Douglass was a man of decisions. As a child, he made the decision to learn to read and
write because he realized literacy was the path to freedom. When he was a young man, he decided to
take freedom into his own hands and escape from slavery. As an abolitionist, he decided to publish
his personal story…, even though he knew it would endanger his life. And when he had the chance to
live in England enjoying peace and equality, he decided to return home… and fight for the freedoms of
his people.” We all need role models to show us the best in men.

Ken Silverstein. The Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and His Backyard Nuclear
Reactor
. (Random House, 2004)

Shelley Sommer.
Hammerin' Hank Greenberg: Baseball Pioneer. (Calkins Creek, 2011)
In the 1930's and 1940's, sports went a long way towards breaking down barriers. We all know about
Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, and Jesse Owens, but few people know the story of Hank Greenberg, the
first great Jewish baseball player, who fought through descrimination to win two MVP awards and the
respect of a nation for his character, his patriotism, and his homerun swing.

Michael O. Tunnell. Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot". (Charlesbridge,
2010)
The US military is, and has long been, about more than winnin g wars. They also try to win the hearts
and minds of peoples they come in contact with around the world, and sometimes we need to be
reminded of the best of the US Military tradition. The Berlin Airlift "Candy Bomber" is one great
example. Also check out
Saving the Baghdad Zoo, by Kelly Milner Halls and William Graham Sumner.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Life in Prison. (Chronicle Books, 2001)
Books For Boys
Suggestions by Michael Sullivan
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teacher, librarian, chess instructor, author, storyteller, expert on boys and reading.
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