10 Novels in Free Verse #NationalPoetryMonth #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge #LoveThatDog [Book Review]

April 22, 2022

10 Novels in Free Verse

Do You Have Novels in Free Verse on Your Bookshelf?

April is National Poetry Month: 10 Favorite MG and YA Novels in Free Verse (white text over a background of an open poetry book and a cup of coffee)

Today for the April #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge I’m focusing on Middle Grade (MG) and Young Adult (YA) Novels in Free Verse.

It’s National Poetry Month in April and I’ve featured three poems on the blog this month: The Lanyard, Refugee Blues, and The Rain Stick. However, my favorite form of poetry is a novel in free verse.

A Poet’s Glossary defines books in verse as “A novel in poetry. A hybrid form, the verse novel filters the devices of fiction through the medium of poetry.”

For today’s post I’m reviewing an old favorite (one that I used in my classroom), and I’m listing a few of my favorite novels in free verse.

You might notice that this list is comprised of Middle Grade and Young Adult titles (that all adults will enjoy). I think a novel in free verse appeals especially to reluctant MG and YA readers. They are usually quick reads and seem more personal and accessible. Some of these selections are more poetic than others.

Do you have a favorite novel in free verse?
Have you ever read a novel in free verse?

***Titles in this post are links to my reviews or Amazon affiliate links.


Love That Dog by Sharon Creech [Review]

MG Contemporary Fiction. Heartfelt. A Boy and his dog. Teaching poetry.

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (cover) Image: a hand drawn dog on a yellow background

My Thoughts:

One book I used in my class when I taught fifth grade was Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.

I used this heartfelt story to introduce a poetry unit.

In the beginning of the story, Jack is convinced that he cannot write poetry. Boys don’t write poetry! With a bit of courage, his teacher’s gentle and persistent encouragement, and using models of wonderful poems, Jack discovers that he can write poetry….especially poetry when his beloved yellow dog, Sky, is the subject.

I love that the back of the book contains several selections of poetry from the teacher’s lessons (which are inferred and not presented). After the lesson, Jack attempts to write his own poetry by using the models. As a class, we flipped to the back of the book and read the model poem before we read Jack’s attempt so that we could notice how the famous poem had affected Jack’s writing process…I also gently and casually inserted elements of poetry for discussion. It was one of our favorite lessons!

As a bonus, it’s a wonderful text for teaching inference as we only hear the story from Jack’s POV and we need to infer the teacher’s part.

Throughout the story, Jack grows in his ability to write poetry and his final poem about Sky is emotional and memorable. I read this as a read aloud over several days (each student also had a copy of the book to follow along) and the entire class was in tears at the end (including me!).

For the full emotional experience, I honestly think that this book is best consumed as a read aloud (parent/child, teacher/class).

Can you tell this book makes my teacher heart happy?!

This is a sweet story that an adult can read in one sitting. If you’ve ever had a beloved dog as a child, have tissues handy!

If you’re a teacher, use this as an intro to poetry! You’re welcome.


Other Novels in Free Verse


Paper Hearts (YA) by Meg Wiviott

YA Historical Fiction. On my lifetime favorites list. Simply beautiful. Review is linked in title.

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott (cover)

Inside Out and Back Again (MG) by Thanhha Lai

MG Historical Fiction. Refugee and Immigrant story. Brief review is linked in title…scroll down page.

Inside Out & Back Again y Thannha Lai (cover) ....a girl holding onto a tree trunk with one hand on a breezy day

Brown Girl Dreaming (MG) by Jaqueline Woodson

MG Nonfiction. Childhood Memoir. Diverse Read. Review is linked in title.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (cover)

Clap When You Land (YA) by Elizabeth Acevedo

YA Contemporary Fiction. Diverse Read. Review is linked in title.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (cover)

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Other Words For Home [Book Review]

September 10, 2021

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga

Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga (cover) Image: the profile of a young Syrian girl in a head scarf

Genre/Categories/Setting: Middle Grade+, Contemporary Fiction, Syria (and U.S.), Refugee, Coming of Age, Novel in Free Verse, Diverse Reads

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Because of instability in Syria, Jude and her mother leave her father and older brother to live with relatives in America (Cincinnati). Even though Jude has learned some English, she is unprepared for life in an American family, starting school in the U.S,. and her new label as “Middle Eastern.” Jude makes the best of some difficult situations and is suprised to make a new friend. Ultimately, she summons all her bravery and tries out for the school musical.

My Thoughts:

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Paper Hearts [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

May 20, 2021

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott
#throwbackthursday

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott (cover) Image: hand stitched title on a blue background...stitched star in upper left corner

Genre/Categories: WW11, Holocaust, Jewish, Young Adult, Poetry (free verse), Friendship, Survival

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a review of the poignant and compelling Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott, a title on my lifetime favorites list.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“In Paper Hearts, two unforgettable girls find themselves tragically imprisoned at Auschwitz during the Holocaust and become friends. Through the bonds of friendship and a bit of defiance, Zlatka and Fania find threads of hope and a will to live. In this true story, Zlatka, along with the help of a few other girls, masterminds making a surprise birthday card for Fania. A secret project that would be a crime punishable by death if caught, each girl signed the paper hearts card with her hopes and wishes for happiness, love, and freedom. This heart is a symbol of defiance and is one of the few artifacts created in Auschwitz that has survived and can be seen today in the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre in Canada and in the image below.”

a beautiful, memorable, and gently written story of friendship and survival…

Continue here for my full review of Paper Hearts ….

Hamdmade collection of heartshaped paper: Holocaust artifact



QOTD:

Have you read Paper Hearts or is it on your TBR?

Clap When You Land: [Book Review]

May 22, 2020

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (cover) Image: split image of two young Hispanic girl

Genre/Categories: YA contemporary fiction, novel in free verse, family secrets, siblings, grief, diversity

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Papi and his two families…

Papi spends summers in the Dominican Republic with his daughter, Camino, and her aunt who is Camino’s guardian since Camino’s mother died. Papi spends the remainder of the year in New York City with his wife and daughter, Yahaira. Camino and Yahaira do not know about each other and they both love their Papi. One day, Papi’s plane crashes as he’s on his way to the Dominican Republic and the girls find out about each other. Should they get acquainted? Should they even meet? Can they become true sisters? Can the families forgive Papi and embrace new family members?

In case you might want to know, Acevedo always includes LGBTQ representation in her stories.

My Thoughts:

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National Poetry Month

April 13, 2020

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month (image: top view of a cup of coffee and an open book of poetry on a wooden table....flowers peeking into the frame)

Image Source: Canva

Do you read poetry?

In recognition of National Poetry Month, I’m pleased to highlight fiction and nonfiction selections written in free verse. What I love about poetry is the figurative language, sparse words to convey the most beautiful reflections, and  exquisite and unique turns of phrases. I need to expand my reading experiences with poetry, and I would love to hear about your favorite poets and poetry collections in the comments, please!

Here are seven of my favorite MG and YA free verse titles:

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Paper Hearts [Book Review]

May 21, 2019

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

Paper Hearts Review

Genre/Categories: WW11, Holocaust, Jewish, Young Adult, Poetry (free verse), Friendship, Survival

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

In Paper Hearts, two unforgettable girls find themselves tragically imprisoned at Auschwitz during the Holocaust and become friends. Through the bonds of friendship and a bit of defiance, Zlatka and Fania find threads of hope and a will to live. In this true story, Zlatka, along with the help of a few other girls, masterminds making a surprise birthday card for Fania. A secret project that would be a crime punishable by death if caught, each girl signed the paper hearts card with her hopes and wishes for happiness, love, and freedom. This heart is a symbol of defiance and is one of the few artifacts created in Auschwitz that has survived and can be seen today in the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre in Canada. (see an article link and image below)

My Thoughts:

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Brown Girl Dreaming: A Review

April 10, 2019

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming Review

  • Genre/Categories: Non Fiction, Poetry, Memoir, Middle Grade, Racism, Prejudice, African-American, Family Life

*This post contains amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

In free verse, Jaqueline Woodson shares her experience as an African-American growing up in South Carolina and New York during the 60s and 70s. An award-winning book, Brown Girl Dreaming is a poignant and inspiring story of a girl finding her voice and her place in the world. Even though she struggled with reading in childhood, she loved stories and blank writing paper as she held her dream of writing close to her heart.

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National Poetry Month

April 2, 2019

National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month

Image Source: Canva

Do you read poetry?

In recognition of National Poetry Month, I need your help Readers! Honestly, the type of poetry I like is a story written in free verse. What I love about poetry is the figurative language, sparse words to convey the most beautiful reflections, and beautiful and unique turns of phrases. I need to expand my reading experiences with poetry, and I would love to hear about your favorite poets and poetry collections in comments please!

Here are six of my favorite examples of stories told in free verse:

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