Novels-in-Verse have proved to be popular with YA readers.  The emergence of this new genre for youth should be no surprise.

First of all, the novels are presented in short segments.  For the struggling or reluctant reader, this is key to a positive reading experience.  I remember how my second daughter struggled with her reading disability.  Reading a complete chapter was such as laborious and time consuming affair, she seldom made it past that initial “scene setting” introduction (if she, in fact finished it).  More often than not, she read and re-read the first few pages…”trying to get into the book.”  Novels-in-verse offer bite-size ideas that can be consumed in their entirety, at any pace, in a short amount of time.

Secondly, I think the lyrical nature of the verse reaches out to young people in a way that respects their own literacy strengths…music.  Teens who can’t reiterate what they learned last week in school can recite (or sing) music lyrics word for word.  They are immersed in the culture and in the genre.  The music lyrics speak  to them of the angst that is part of adolescent life.  It aptly allows them to express their own fears and pains, hopes and desires.  For sure, the tunes make the memorization of the lyrics easier…but the lyrics themselves, hold a rhythm…a cadence…of their own that bypasses short-term memory and embed themselves into the heart of us.

For educators and parents, listed below are a number of books in the genre worth the short time it will take you to read them.

  • After the Death of Anna Gonzales by  Terri Fields
  • Aleutian Sparrow by Karen Hesse
  • Braid by Helen Frost
  • Brimstone Journals by Ronald Koertge
  • Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
  • Burned by Ellen Hopkins
  • Crank by Ellen Hopkins
  • CrrashBoomLove by Juan Felipe Herrara
  • Fattening Hut by Pat Lowery Collins
  • Geography of Girlhood by Kirsten Smith
  • God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant
  • Hard Hit by Ann Turner
  • Heaven Looks a Lot Like a Mall by Wendy Mass
  • Hugging the Rock by Susan Taylor Brown
  • Keesha’s House by Helen Frost
  • Learning to Swim: A Memoir by Ann Turner
  • Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
  • One Night by Margaret Wild
  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
  • Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block
  • Realm of Possibility by David Levithan
  • Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans
  • Running Back to Ludie by Angela Johnson
  • Secret of Me by Meg Kearney
  • Seventeen by Liz Rosenberg
  • Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge
  • Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
  • Sister Slam and the Poetic Motormouth Roadtrip by Linda Oatman High
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
  • Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
  • Splintering by Eireann Corrigan
  • Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones
  • Street Love by Walter Dean Myers
  • Sweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell
  • Things Left Unsaid by Stephanie Hemphill
  • Walking on Glass by Alma Fullerton
  • Who Killed Mr. Chippendale?: A Mystery in Poems by Mel Glenn
  • Witness by Karen Hesse
  • Wolf by Steven Herrick
  • Your Own Sylvia by Stephanie Hemphill
  • Zane’s Trace by Allan Wolf

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