April 22, 2022
10 Novels in Free Verse
Do You Have Novels in Free Verse on Your Bookshelf?
Today for the April #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge I’m focusing on Middle Grade (MG) and Young Adult (YA) Novels 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.
MG Contemporary Fiction. Heartfelt. A Boy and his dog. Teaching poetry.
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
YA Historical Fiction. On my lifetime favorites list. Simply beautiful. Review is linked in title.
MG Historical Fiction. Refugee and Immigrant story. Brief review is linked in title…scroll down page.
MG Nonfiction. Childhood Memoir. Diverse Read. Review is linked in title.
YA Contemporary Fiction. Diverse Read. Review is linked in title.