If you’ve never heard of a verse novel, you are in for a treat! A verse novel is a book-length story that’s told using poems rather than prose. Today, we’ll be exploring some reasons for reading verse novels and recommending a few of our favorites.
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Even if you’ve never heard of a verse novel, chances are, you’ve read one before! Did you know that Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad can both be considered verse novels? Although the English translations aren’t always told in poetry, the original Greek stories are epic poems.
While epic poetry can be considered “verse novels” broadly speaking, they’re pretty different from the verse novels written today. Today’s verse novels for young adults usually focus on the experiences of their teenage main character, following their struggles with growing up. Some verse novels emphasize a particular moment in history, while others show the challenges of ordinary life for that character.
Why read verse novels? Verse novels are often easier to read than a chapterbook of the same length. They have a lot of white space and not too many words on each page. Even though the poetic form might look a bit intimidating, most verse novels aren’t written using elaborate language, so they’re usually easy to understand. Plus, verse novels tell stories and focus on specific characters’ experiences, so they’re a good taste of poetry for kids who prefer novels.
Let’s dive right into some of our favorite verse novels. Check these out and let us know what you think!
The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
Do you have boys who love sports and hate poetry? Then this is the book for them! Follow 12-year-old Josh as he plays basketball, tries to live up to his dad’s history as a basketball star, and struggles with his relationship with his twin brother Jordan.
Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai
This novel tells the story of a girl who flees the Vietnam War and moves to America. It shows the main character’s struggles with adjusting to the language, school life, and culture of the United States. If you like a bit of history mixed into your stories, then Lai’s book is perfect for you.
Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech
For a school project, Jack has to write a diary about his life in poetic form. Jack is hilariously honest about how much he hates poetry and what he would rather be doing. If you’ve got any reluctant writers or readers in your family, they’ll relate to Jack’s struggles, and maybe they’ll appreciate the joys he finds in poetry, too.
Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
This book is the autobiographical story of the author growing up in the 1960s in South Carolina and New York. Follow Jacqueline as she experiences the Civil Rights Era and moves around the US. Woodson makes the joys and heartbreaks of her younger self come to life for readers in this vivid and beautiful verse novel.
Verse novels are the perfect combination of storytelling and poetry for modern-day preteens and teens. Check some out from your local library and see for yourself!