Hate That Cat, Sharon Creech, poety novels for children, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

Top 10: YA & Middle Grade Novels in Verse

Best Novels in Verse for Kids and Teens

I found another great Novel in Verse from a great author blog, Caroline By Line, and it’s her actual book. It got a great review in Horn Book Review! May B by Caroline Starr Rose.

a href=”https://www.amazon.com/dp/158246393X/ref=as_li_tf_til?tag=pragmom-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=158246393X&adid=0070EXAVHD800HGK84YJ&” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>

ReadInASingleSitting has a great list of Young Adult Novels in Verse and she was kind enough to let me repost it.  I’m still just beginning the descent into Young Adult literature as I read ahead for my oldest and she is a little shy of 11.  I’ve actually only read the Sharon Creech book, Hate That Cat (which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE), and Call Me Maria.  But here is the thing about poetry:  all kids love to write poetry yet they shy away from reading it.  Some of the best work that my kids have brought home have been their original, illustrated poems.  AND, if you read a novel in verse, you can actually start hearing poetry in your head.  Yes, really, it makes you become a poet! Or at least that was my experience after I read Hate That Cat.

If poetry seems intimidating or out of reach, try these YA novels that just happen to be in verse.  I bet it will make you rethink poetry as that torturous unit you had to do in high school when the poems were confusing and you were forced to “discuss” what the poem means.  And if you leave a couple of these books lying around the house, perhaps your child will pick it up and read it too!

Here is the link for the full post.  Here is the beginning of the post plus her list of books.  I have her first 10 authors listed with about 15 books, but the list is not in her order of recommendation so there are even more books if you check out her full post.  For example, you can find her review of Call Me Maria there

I came across this gem from a great blog called Paper Tigers:

Orchards is Holly Thompson’s debut novel for young adults and is written in verse. It tells the story of Kana Goldberg, a half-Jewish, half-Japanese American teenager who, after a classmate’s unexpected death, is sent to her family’s farm in Japan to reflect on her participation in the events that led up to the classmate’s suicide.


One more! The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli

This review is from Into The Wardrobe:  Eleven-year-old Bindi is really struggling with the fact that her dad has left her and her mom. She also has to adjust to the new apartment she and her mom have moved into and The Dancing Pancake, the diner her mom and Aunt Darnell have just opened. There are definite perks to being part of a diner: Bindi and her friends Albert, Megan, and Kyra sit in the back booth and eat waffles with strawberries and whipped cream or triple-decker grilled sandwiches with root beer floats. But mostly Bindi is feeling mad-sad-bad about all the changes in her life. Then there is Grace, the homeless woman who is a regular customer at The Dancing Pancake. Bindi wants to rent a room for Grace but her mom won’t help her. Why must everything be so frustrating???

middle grade elementary school novels in verse The dancing pancake read in a single sitting pragmaticmom pragmatic mom------------------ Novels in verse aren’t exactly new (some rather well-known classics such as The Divine ComedyThe Iliad and The Odyssey, and Paradise Lost come to mind), but young adult novels in verse are a relatively new phenomenon. And what a phenomenon they are: many of them have won prestigious awards such as the National Book Award, the Prinz Honor Award, or the Newbery, or in some cases, a combination of these. Below is a brief list of some of the novels in verse, both recent and older, that can be found around the traps. As always, the list is in no way exhaustive, so feel free to contribute any books that you feel should be featured.

1.  Crank by Ellen Hopkins (and also Glass and Fallout)

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: a gifted student, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, Kristina disappears and Bree takes her place. Bree is a total opposite to Kristina – she’s fearless. Through a boy she meets, Bree is introduced to the monster: crank. And what begins as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul and, ultimately, her life.

Crank, Ellen Hopkins, Young Adult novels in verse, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic MomGlass, Ellen Hopkins, YA novels in verse, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Momfallout, ellen hopkins, ya novels in verse, http://PragmaticMom.com, PragmaticMom

2.  I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder (and also Far From You)

Ava can’t see him or touch him, unless she’s dreaming. She can’t hear his voice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think she’s crazy, but she knows he’s here. Jackson. The boy Ava thought she’d spend the rest of her life with. He’s back from the dead, as proof that love truly knows no bounds.

I Heart You You Haunt Me, Lisa Schroeder, http://PragmaticMom.com, PragmaticMom, novels in verse young adultFar From You, Lisa Schroeder, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

3. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (and also Hate That Cat, Heartbeat) – This is appropriate Middle Grade (grades 4-8).

Love That Dog is the story of Jack, his dog, his teacher, and words. The story develops through Jack’s responses to his teacher, Miss Stretchberry, over the course of a school year. At first, his responses are short and cranky: “I don’t want to” and “I tried. Can’t do it. Brain’s empty.” But as his teacher feeds him inspiration, Jack finds that he has a lot to say and he finds ways to say it.

Hate That Cat, Sharon Creech, poety novels for children, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic MomHeartbeat, Sharon Creech, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

4. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (see also Aleutian Sparrow and Witness)

Told in free verse in the spare and haunting voice of 14-year-old Billie Jo Kelby, Out of the Dust is a journey to the heart of a family caught in the Oklahoma dust-bowl. It is the story of Ma, who sees the idea of herself burn away with every parched day, until she herself is consumed by fire. It is the story of Bayard, her husband, who cannot comes to terms with his failure to produce, to provide. But most of all, it is the story of Billie Jo who must find a way to get out of the dust, even if it means leaving behind everything she has ever loved.

Aleutian Sparrow, Karen Hesse, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom, novels as poetry for kids children middle grades young adult fictionWitness, Karen Hesse, poetry novels for kids, http://PragmaticMom.com, PragmaticMom, Pragmatic Mom

5. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Somes (also What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know and One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies)
My name is Sophie. This book is about me. It tells the heart-stoppingly riveting story of my first love. And also of my second. And, okay, my third love too. It’s not that I’m boy crazy. It’s just that even though I’m almost fifteen it’s like my mind and my body and my heart just don’t seem to be able to agree on anything.

What My Mother Doesn't Know, Sonya Somes, poetry ya fiction, http://PragmaticMom.com, PragmaticMomWhat My Girlfriend Doesn't Know, Sonya Somes, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic MomOne of those hideous books where the mother dies, sonya sones, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

6. Keesha’s House by Helen Frost

Seven teens facing such problems as pregnancy, closeted homosexuality, and abuse each describe in poetic forms what caused them to leave home and where they found home again.

Keesha's House, Helen Frost, Pritker Prize, award winning book, ya novel as poetry, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

7. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva all get mixed up with a senior boy, a cool, slick, sexy boy who can talk them into doing almost anything he wants. In a blur of high school hormones and personal doubt, each girl struggles with how much to give up and what ultimately to keep for herself. How do girls handle themselves? How much can a boy get away with? And in the end, who comes out on top? A bad boy may always be a bad boy. But this bad boy is about to meet three girls who won’t back down.

http://www.tanyastone.com/, A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl, poetry YA Novels, http://PragmaticMom.com

8.  You Are Not Here by Samantha Schultz
Annaleah and Brian shared something special – Annaleah is sure of it. When they were together, they didn’t need anyone else. It didn’t matter that their relationship was secret. All that mattered was what they had with each other. And then, out of nowhere, Brian dies. And while everyone else has their role in the grieving process, Annaleah finds herself living outside of it, unacknowledged and lonely. How can you recover from a loss that no one will let you have?

You Are Not Here, Samantha Schultz, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

9.  Sold by Patricia McCormick (National Book Award Finalist)
Sold into prostitution, Lakshmi lives a nightmare and gradually forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision to risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life.

Sold, Patricia McCormick, National Book Award Finalist, best novel in verse, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic Mom

10. Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
In 1939, the Germans invaded the town of Lodz, Poland, and moved the Jewish population into a small part of the city called a ghetto. As the war progressed, 270,000 people were forced to settle in the ghetto under impossible conditions.  At the end of the war, there were about 800 survivors. Of those who survived, only twelve were children. This is the story of one of the twelve.

Yellow Star, Jennifer Roy, http://PragmaticMom.com, Pragmatic mom

For the rest of her excellent  list, please click here.  She has 20 more books on her list that are not listed here.  If you want me to expand my post to include the rest, please leave me a comment and I’ll do it for you.  Thanks!

To view any book at Amazon, please click on image of the book.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. What about All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Berg? I absolutely loved it!

  2. What an excellent list! There are so many verse novels I’m not familiar with. Thank you for introducing me to some new ones.

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