Blog Post: Utilizing Young Adult Literature to Teach about Past Nuclear Force

Often, writers look to pull inspiration from real-life experiences and events in their works. Through this, authors are able to create relatable situations in which readers can immerse themselves in the lives of characters and learns valuable lessons without actually experiencing them. This technique is used in many ways, but one could argue that there is no more important way to utilize this than to educate about past events. This becomes especially true when looking at historical events of significance such as the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

With some research, it is relatively easy to find several different pieces of Young Adult (YA) literature that utilize this horrific event of past in some way or another. The novel, Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story is one of the most blatant usages. This nonfiction text “tells the true story of six-year-old Sachiko Yasui’s survival of the Nagasaki atomic bomb on August 9, 1945, and the heartbreaking and lifelong aftermath” (Stelson). Stelson’s piece looks to explore the impact of the bombings on people during that time and throughout history until today. Sachiko has won many awards since its publication, truly highlighting the value behind educating students, and readers in general, about events such as this one.

YA fiction also utilizes history in different ways and draws from true events to create fantastical worlds. The collection of stories Diverse Energies contains many pieces including “The Last Day” by Ellen Oh. In this dystopian fiction, questions such as, “what if no one knew about the effects of the atomic bomb? What if, even after the decimation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese emperor continued the war?” (Law). In this piece, the protagonist is a boy named Kenji who works to keep his mother and sister alive after the bombings and after the death of his father and brother in the war. This piece creatively educates about the aftermath of the nuclear attacks while piquing the interest of young readers through fiction and dystopia.

Educating young adults about historical events can be difficult in a traditional school setting, but by utilizing pieces such as Sachiko and “The Last Day,” adolescents and other readers have the opportunity to learn in other mediums. Such events as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had such impact on the movement of World War II, and the impact has continued through the building of society today. With the utilization of YA literature, education on these events can be facilitated in classrooms everywhere.


Work Cited

Law, Victoria. “Two YA Authors Explore Life After the Bomb,” bitchmedia, 2013. Retrieved from

Stelson, Caren. “Sachiko: a Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story,” Caren Stelson: author, 2019. Retrieved from

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