If you haven’t experienced the delight of reading a novel written in verse, this list is for you. These top ten books written in verse cover topics ranging from basketball to young love and from the Civil Rights movement to life in 1930’s Baltimore. Check out one of these books today to experience the imagery and voice of a verse novel as it carries you along on a poignant journey.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander: Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson: Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world.
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse: In a series of poems, fifteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family’s wheat farm in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years of the Depression.
Love that Dog by Sharon Creech: A young student, who comes to love poetry through a personal understanding of what different famous poems mean to him, surprises himself by writing his own inspired poem, about his dog.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai: Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.
Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes: Gabby daydreams to tune out her parents’ arguments, but when her parents divorce and she begins a new school, daydreaming gets her into trouble. Her mother scolds her for it, her teacher keeps telling her to pay attention, and the other kids tease her…until she finds a friend who also daydreams and her teacher decides to work a daydreaming-writing session into every school day. With a notebook “thick with daydreams,” Gabby grows more confident about herself and her future. This verse novel poignantly celebrates the power of writing and the inspiration a good teacher can deliver.
Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards: Sixteen-year-old Celestia is a wealthy member of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, where she meets and falls in love with Peter, a hired hand who lives in the valley below, and by the time of the torrential rains that lead to the disastrous Johnstown flood of 1889, she has been disowned by her family and is staying with him in Johnstown. Includes an author’s note and historical timeline.
Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff by Robert Paul Weston: When Prince Puggly attends a ball in the Kingdom of Spiff, he is laughed at by all the Spiffs, except for the Princess of Spiff who helps him teach her fellow Spiffian citizens a lesson.
Looking for Me by Betsy Rosenthal: In 1936 Baltimore, an eleven-year-old Jewish girl, one of twelve siblings, tries to find her place in her overcrowded family.
May B by Caroline Starr Rose: When a failed wheat crop nearly bankrupts the Betterly family, Pa pulls twelve-year-old May from school and hires her out to a couple new to the Kansas frontier.