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 has 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.
Best Novels in Verse for Kids and Teens
Novels in verse aren’t exactly new (some rather well-known classics such as The Divine Comedy, The 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 trilogy by Ellen Hopkins
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 the total opposite of 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.
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.
3. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (and also Hate That Cat, Heartbeat)
Love That Dog is the story of Jack, his dog, his teacher, and his 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.
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 come 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.
5. What My Mother Doesn’t Know series 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.
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.
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 at 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.
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?
9. Sold by Patricia McCormick
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.
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.
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!
More Great Novels in Verse
The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander
Review from Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Powerful historical novel in verse, set in Ghana in the 19th century. Young Kofi goes to a school where the teacher is cruelly insistent they use “the Queen’s English” instead of Twi. He has an interest in Ama, a girl he knows who is forced to work at her uncle’s house because of her family’s poverty, and has big dreams for his future. These are shattered when his older brother accidentally kills another boy in a wrestling match during a festival, and when slave traders invade and capture and torture many in the community. An important and long overdue look at problematic history.” [novel in verse, ages 10 and up]
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.
I came across this gem from a great blog called Paper Tigers:
Orchards are Holly Thompson’s debut novel for young adults and are 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???
p.s. Related posts:
Diverse Middle Grade Novels in Verse
5 Amazing Multicultural Novels in Verse and the Kid Lit Blog Hop
Novels in Verse for Kids: Poetry in Motion
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
3 thoughts on “Top 10: YA & Middle Grade Novels in Verse”
What about All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Berg? I absolutely loved it!
What an excellent list! There are so many verse novels I’m not familiar with. Thank you for introducing me to some new ones.
Thank you so much for your ind words. I can’t take credit for it. Read In A Single Sitting did all the hard work. I do love novels in verse though!