Novels in verse are a powerful and engaging way to introduce poetry to young readers. They combine the narrative of a novel with the lyrical beauty of poetry, creating a unique reading experience. If you are looking for novels in verse to add to your classroom library, here are 12 terrific options that will captivate your students.
- “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson This Newbery Honor-winning memoir tells the story of Woodson’s childhood and her experiences growing up as an African-American girl in the 1960s and 1970s. Through beautiful verse, Woodson explores themes of identity, family, and finding her voice.
- “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander Winner of the Newbery Medal, “The Crossover” follows twin brothers Josh and Jordan as they navigate family, friendship, and basketball. Alexander’s dynamic verse captures the excitement and emotions of the game, making this a must-read for sports enthusiasts.
- “Inside Out & Back Again” by Thanhha Lai Inspired by the author’s own experience as a refugee, this novel in verse tells the story of Ha, a 10-year-old girl fleeing Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. Through Ha’s poetic voice, readers gain insight into the challenges and triumphs of starting a new life in a foreign country.
- “Out of the Dust” by Karen Hesse Set during the Dust Bowl era, “Out of the Dust” is a hauntingly beautiful novel that explores themes of loss, resilience, and hope. Hesse’s sparse and evocative verse brings to life the harsh conditions and the indomitable spirit of protagonist Billie Jo.
- “Love That Dog” by Sharon Creech This heartwarming and accessible novel follows a young boy named Jack as he discovers his love for poetry. Through Jack’s classroom assignments and personal reflections, readers are introduced to various poetic forms and the power of self-expression.
- “Booked” by Kwame Alexander Another poetic masterpiece by Kwame Alexander, “Booked” explores themes of love, family, and the power of words. The protagonist, 12-year-old Nick, navigates the challenges of middle school while finding solace in soccer and books.
- “The Red Pencil” by Andrea Davis Pinkney “The Red Pencil” tells the story of Amira, a 12-year-old Sudanese girl, as she grapples with the realities of war and displacement. Through Amira’s poetic journal entries, readers witness her journey of resilience and hope.
- “May B.” by Caroline Starr Rose Set on the Kansas prairie, “May B.” follows 12-year-old May as she is left alone to tend a pioneer homestead. Through May’s introspective and introspective verse, readers experience her struggle for survival and determination to find her way back home.
- “Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body” by Tish Rabe Part of the popular Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series, “Inside Your Outside” introduces children to the wonders of the human body through a delightful combination of rhyme and science.
- “Karma Khullar’s Mustache” by Kristi Wientge This humorous and heartfelt novel explores the ups and downs of middle school life through the eyes of 12-year-old Karma Khullar. With her unique voice and witty observations, Karma navigates friendships, family dynamics, and cultural identity.
- “The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic” by Allan Wolf Through multiple poetic voices, “The Watch That Ends the Night” offers a haunting and deeply moving account of the Titanic disaster. Wolf’s lyrical verse transports readers back in time, capturing the hopes, dreams, and tragic fate of those aboard the ill-fated ship.
- “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir” by Margarita Engle This lyrical memoir explores the author’s experiences of growing up between two cultures, the United States and Cuba, during the Cold War. Engle’s poetic prose beautifully captures her longing for home and the power of imagination to bridge divides.
These 12 terrific novels in verse offer a diverse range of themes and experiences, making them ideal additions to any classroom library. Through their poetic narratives, students can explore different perspectives, enhance their understanding of poetry, and develop a love for reading.