It’s National Poetry Day today and we hope that you have all been busy writing or talking about poetry. One way of writing poetry is to combine it with a story creating a verse novel. Lately, there have been many verse novels winning awards and appearing on shortlists. Last year, the Carnegie Medal was awarded to Elizabeth Acevedo for her outstanding verse novel The Poet X. Sarah Crossan also won the Carnegie Medal in 2016 for One. Verse novels can often be used to encourage reluctant readers to engage with books.
Here are some recommendations for those of you who would like to explore verse novels with your students.
- The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
A debut YA verse novel written by Elizabeth Acevedo, an Afro-Dominican poet. It won the 2019 Carnegie Medal and tells the story of Xiomara, a young girl living in Harlem, who turns to SLAM poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world.
- One by Sarah Crossan
This is the story of conjoined twins(Grace and Tippi) who begin school after years of being educated at home. The YA verse novel is told from Grace’s viewpoint. It won the Carnegie Medal in 2016.
- Love that dog by Sharon Creech
This is a verse novel that is suitable for younger children. Jack finds his voice with the help of a teacher, a pencil, some yellow paper and a dog. The story is told from Jack’s point of view.
- The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
Here we have the story of a young Polish girl called Kasienka who has moved to England with her mother to look for her long lost father. A verse novel told from Kasienka’s point of view. It won the 7 – 11 category of the UKLA Book Awards in 2013.
- The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
This verse novel is the story of Josh and Jordan, twelve year old basketball-loving twins. It explores themes of brotherhood, our ability to rise above our losses and of course, basketball. This story won the Newbery Medal in 2015.
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
An autobiographical account of Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood. She grew up as an African American child living in Ohio, South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and 1970s. This verse novel received a Newbery honour in 2014.
- Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Themes of revenge, gang violence and gun crime are centre stage for this YA verse novel. It won the 12 – 16+ category of the UKLA Book Awards in 2019 and was also shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal this year.