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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“The Rain Stick” #ListenToAPoem [National Poetry Month]

April 18, 2022

“The Rain Stick” by Seamus Heaney

National Poetry Month: "The Rain Stick" (image: a man holding a large rain stick)

Image Source: How to Play a Rain Stick

For #NationalPoetryMonth I am sharing one poem a week and spotlighting authors. I hesitate to copy the poem in this post because I do not want to break copyright laws, so I’ll link to it and hopefully you’ll click over and we can discuss it back here!

Honestly, I don’t read a great deal of poetry. My favorite form of poetry is a free verse novel (a full post on that coming Friday)….is that cheating? I’m looking forward to selected poetry in April so I can discover some new favorite poems and authors.

“The Rain Stick” by Seamus Herney

Who remembers having a teacher who used a rain stick to gain students’ attention? Who has bought a rain stick at a souvineer stand or toy store? If you are a teacher who has a rain stick or you have a middle-grade child with a rain stick, you might enjoy this poem! How do you “listen” to a poem?

Here’s a “sound” poem I think you might enjoy along with tips about “listening” to a poem.

Read “Rainstick” by Seamus Heaney

Hear “a rain stick” and hear “The Rain Stick” read for you here.

  • OK….what did you think?
  • Did this poem bring back childhood memories?
  • If you were to write a “sound” poem, what subject would you choose?

Meet the Author, Seamus Heaney

Poet Seamus HeaneySeamus Heaney is widely recognized as one of the major poets of the 20th century. A native of Northern Ireland, Heaney was raised in County Derry, and later lived for many years in Dublin. He was the author of over 20 volumes of poetry and criticism, and edited several widely used anthologies. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 “for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.” Heaney taught at Harvard University (1985-2006) and served as the Oxford Professor of Poetry (1989-1994). He died in 2013.



QOTD:

Can you relate to this poem in some way?
Does this poem bring back a childhood memory?
If you were to write a “sound” poem, which subject would you chose?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

“Refugee Blues” [National Poetry Month]

April 15, 2022

“Refugee Blues” by W.H. Auden (1939)

Refugee Blues (image: a small girl sits on a box in a homeless or refugee camp)

Image Source: Canva

For #NationalPoetryMonth I am sharing one poem a week and spotlighting authors. I hesitate to copy the poem in this post because I do not want to break copyright laws, so I’ll link to it and hopefully you’ll click over and we can discuss it back here!

Honestly, I don’t read a great deal of poetry. My favorite form of poetry is a free verse novel (a full post on that coming later this month)….is that cheating? I’m looking forward to selected poetry in April so I can discover some new favorite poems and authors.

“Refugee Blues”

When I came across this poem (written in 1939), I couldn’t help but be struck by its tragic timeliness. As we watch the world news (war against Ukraine) and see refugee faces, I hope each of you have found a way to give to the relief efforts in a way that makes sense to you. I know the missionary organization I support is grateful for the solidarity of our prayers and for financial gifts. To help the refugee and the most innocent and fragile among us is our greatest calling.

I think you migh appreciate this poignant poem by Auden and it’s unique structure.

Read “Refugee Blues” by W. H. Auden

From the annotations: “In this poem Auden uses as a template the blues tradition, which developed in Black communities in the United States and has its origins in slave songs. Though composed through improvisation, the blues has a rigid pattern and strong use of repetition.

Auden applies this format to the plight of Jews in Europe at the time of the Nazi persecution in the 1930s and the difficulties and indifference they faced when seeking asylum. In setting the poem to the template of a blues song Auden could be drawing an analogy; both people have suffered.

Structure
The poem comprises three lined stanzas known as tercets. The first two lines of each stanza rhyme. The third line of each stanza is divided into two sections, internally rhymed, but separated by the refrain ‘my dear’. This works like the repeating chorus of a song.” ~Source

Hear “Refugee Blues” here.

  • OK….what did you think?
  • Were you able to relate to this poem in some way?
  • Have you read other poems by Auden?

Related: Books I’ve reviewed with Refugee themes: Refugee by Alan Gratz, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (scroll down page), Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga, The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri, and The Boat People by Sharon Bala.

Meet the Author, W.H. Auden

Poet W.H. AudenWystan Hugh Auden (21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973) was a British-American poet. Auden’s poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement.

He was born in York and grew up in and near Birmingham in a professional middle-class family. He attended various English independent (or public) schools and studied English at Christ Church, Oxford. After a few months in Berlin in 1928–29, he spent five years (1930–35) teaching in British private preparatory schools, then travelled to Iceland and China to write books about his journeys.

In 1939, he moved to the United States and became an American citizen in 1946, retaining his British citizenship. He taught from 1941 to 1945 in American universities, followed by occasional visiting professorships in the 1950s. From 1947 to 1957 he wintered in New York and summered in Ischia; from 1958 until the end of his life he wintered in New York (in Oxford in 1972–73) and summered in Kirchstetten, Lower Austria.



QOTD:

Do you read poetry?
Do you have a favorite poem?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

“The Lanyard” [National Poetry Month]

April 1, 2022

“The Lanyard” by Billy Collins

National Poetry Month: The Lanyard (Image: hands making a purple and gold lanyard)

Image Source: wickiHow: Make Lanyards

For #NationalPoetryMonth I am sharing one poem a week and spotlighting authors. I hesitate to copy the poem in this post because I do not want to break copyright laws, so I’ll link to it and hopefully you’ll click over and we can discuss it back here!

Honestly, I don’t read a great deal of poetry. My favorite form of poetry is a free verse novel (a full post on that coming later this month)….is that cheating? I’m looking forward to selected poetry in April so I can discover some new favorite poems and authors.

Can you repay a mother?

I LOVED “The Lanyard” by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins as he describes one ordinary childhood event and conveys a sentimental thought. You will love it also if you’ve ever been to camp and made a lanyard and gifted it to your mom (or made any gift for her, really)! It’s the sweetest sentiment of a child making and presenting a handmade gift to a parent as a “thank you” for all the parent has done for the child. It’s unlikely that debt can ever be repaid in kind, but if you accept the gift in the spirit it’s given, it is indeed a “treasured” and “sentimental” gift! Please take 2 minutes and read this short, poignant poem!

“The Lanyard” by Billy Collins

Or have it read to you here by the author himself!

  • OK….what did you think?
  • Were you able to relate to this poem in some way?
  • Did it bring a tear to your eye? Did it bring back a special memory?
  • Do you think you might include it in a Mother’s Day card or gift?

Meet the Author, Billy Collins

Author Billy collinsBilly Collins is the author of twelve prior collections of poetry including The Rain in Portugal, Aimless Love, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds. A former Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York, Collins served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and as New York State Poet from 2004 to 2006. In 2016 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Florida with his wife, Suzannah.



QOTD:

Do you read poetry?
Do you have a favorite poem?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blog posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

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:

(more…)