As the new school year approaches, students in the greater Spokane area may be looking for good books they can use for book reports or other homework assignments. Fortunately, local and regional authors have written some great fiction and non-fiction works that might meet a teacher’s criteria. Whether people are interested in learning more about local history or simply enjoying a period romance, local writers have covered a quite broad range of subject matter.
It also helps that many books by Spokane area authors are available from local libraries. The Spokane County Library District and Spokane Public Library carry many titles by local authors such as C.J. Cherryh, Patrick F. McManus, T. Dawn Richard, John Soennichsen, Jess Walter and Frank Zafiro.
Soennichsen has written some fun fiction books such as “Westward Journey: The Incredible Adventures of an American Boy” and “The Fat Detective.” However, he has also written several non-fiction books such as “Bretz’s Flood: The Remarkable Story of a Rebel Geologist and the World’s Greatest Flood” and a history of Chinese immigration in the United States called “The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.” Any of his books (except maybe “The Fat Detective”) would be great for students to use as resources.
Critically acclaimed local author Jess Walter is rightfully known for his works of fiction such as “Beautiful Ruins” or “We Live in Water.” He is also a former journalist and he wrote a non-fiction book called “Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family” that chronicles what happened during a famous conflict between a northern Idaho family and federal law enforcement agents.
Please view the list for more reading suggestions.
‘Book All the Teachers’ by James Bartlett Parry
“Book All The Teachers: An Irreverent Ride Through Middle School” by James Bartlett Parry is a creative non-fiction work describing some of the joys and challenges of being a middle school teacher in the Spokane area. Young adults may relate to some of the situations described and parents will find it useful because it will give them some idea of what to expect during the school year. It also helps that parts of the book are quite funny.
‘Saving the Baghdad Zoo’ by Kelly Milner Halls and Major William Sumner
“Saving the Baghdad Zoo” is a non-fiction book written for students in grades five through eight that tells the story of how U.S. Army Captain William Sumner assembled a team of experts to help save the neglected animals of Iraq’s Baghdad Zoo. Co-author Kelly Milner Halls is a local writer who has published many non-fiction books aimed at children and young adults.
‘A Guide to Spokane’s Historic Cemeteries’
“A Guide to Spokane’s Historic Cemeteries” by John Caskey is both an excellent travel guide featuring points of interest in the greater Spokane area and a treasure trove of stories about local history. Students taking Washington State history classes, or covering other similar coursework may find this book incredibly helpful.
‘A Cowgirl Always Gets Even’ by Dawn Nelson
“A Cowgirl Always Gets Even” by award-winning western author Dawn Nelson is a collection of non-fiction stories and poetry drawn from her experiences living as a rancher in central Washington. Students could use it as a resource to describe what it is like to raise cattle and horses, or simply have fun with Nelson’s stories.
‘Westward Journey’ by John Soennichsen
“Westward Journey: The Incredible Adventures of an American Boy” is both a gripping, highly entertaining young adult adventure story and a valuable historical resource about the Old West. Several of the book’s supporting characters were real people who became involved with a disastrous journey through Death Valley on their way to more hospitable parts of California. In an afterword, Soennichsen cites numerous sources he used to make his book as historically accurate as possible.
‘Ruby Ridge’ by Jess Walter
“Ruby Ridge: The Truth and Tragedy of the Randy Weaver Family” by Jess Walter is an in-depth chronicle of an infamous incident that happened in northern Idaho in 1992. A shootout between the Weaver family and federal law enforcement officers resulted in several deaths and a great deal of controversy. Walter presents all sides of the story.