A Handful of Verse Novels

I love verse novels. Verse novels use poetry, rather than prose, to tell their stories, and like graphic novels (and plain old prose novels, for that matter) they can tell just about any story imaginable, crossing genres, styles, tones and levels. Here are just a few of my favourite verse novels, which might serve as a good starting point for readers that are new to the format.

Enjoy!

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Booked by Kwame Alexander

I’ve recently written a full review of this fantastic verse novel on my own blog so I’ll keep this brief – Kwame Alexander writes verse novels for readers who think that poetry is stuffy, boring, or, worst of all “girly”. His stories weave together rap, sports, urban settings and real, likeable characters to create verse novels that just might turn sceptics into believers.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

This beautiful, profound, deeply moving novel tells the story of a young girl Vietnamese girl as she adjusts to her new life after both a traumatic move to a new country, and the potential loss of a beloved family member. Inside Out & Back Again is the first verse novel I read, and I can thank it for providing such an elegant introduction to this versatile genre.

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brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This is another title that I’ve written about previously, but I simply couldn’t create a list of verse novels without including this breathtaking title. Woodson reflects on her childhood growing up first in the American South, and later in New York City, and presents a moving, inspiring account of strength, growth, identity and self-discovery. A must, must read.

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Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Love That Dog is a perfect choice for young readers who think they hate poetry, because Jack, our young protagonist, hates poetry too! But when he’s forced by his teacher to write poetry, Jack realises that poetry might just help him express himself in an entirely new way. A sweet, gentle story that you just can’t help but love.

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Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins

Who knew that poetry and nonfiction could blend so beautifully together? This verse novel introduces Maria Merian, Mary Anning and Maria Mitchell, three women who broke with social norms and expectations and helped further scientific knowledge and understanding.

This is absolutely just the tip of the verse novel iceberg, and there is likely a perfect title out there for just about anyone! What are some of your favourite verse novels for young people?

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Blog Tour: This Impossible Light by Lily Myers

Blog Tour: This Impossible Light by Lily Myers

Hardcover Expected publication: June 6th 2017 by Philomel Books Source: ARC from Publisher You may be familiar with Lily Myers from her spoken word poem “Shrinking Woman” that went viral on Youtube. The poem was also printed in the feminist anthology Here We Are in case you are interested. The official synopsis of This Impossible Light:  Sixteen-year-old Ivy’s […]

Review: The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle

Review: The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle

Hardcover, 182 pages Published March 19th 2013 by HMH Books for Young Readers Source: Publisher “I envy the trees that grow at crossroads. They are never forced to decide which way to go…” I reviewed another book by Margarita Engle this year, The Poet Slave, which, too, discussed slavery in Cuba from a slave’s perspective. […]

Love That Book Hate That Cat

Love That Book Hate That Cat

Hate That Cat is a middle grade verse novel by Sharon Creech, and a sequel to Love That Dog. Jack is one grade older and has the same teacher as last year, Miss Stretchberry, who loves poetry. The story is written as Jack’s workbook exercises for Miss Stretchberry, and runs in many ways as a conversation of which we […]

Verse Novel Review: A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Verse Novel Review: A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

Hardcover, 320 pages Published May 1st 2014 by Nancy Paulsen Books Source: Library “What are you doing, little one?” A priest steadies my ladder. “You don’t have to climb ladders to reach God. He dances within all He creates. Come down.” I run my fingers along the curves of each stone heel. The priest’s laugh […]