Poetry can be a hard sell. Adults are wont to say they don't "get" poetry, and if teens are exposed to classic narrative poetry in high school, they might find it dry and never crack open anything labeled "poetry" again. But it doesn't have to be that way! Below read two arguments for introducing teens, especially reluctant readers, to some new and novel narrative verse, and a list of some recommended reads and books from the library catalog that even adults might take a fancy to.
Narrative poetry is as ancient as Homer's tales of the Iliad and Odyssey, Dante's Divine Comedy, and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, but today's novels in verse are far from boring. Many verse novels tackle difficult topics while others offer lighter stories of love and friendship. Novels in verse are easy to pick up and hard to put down. With fewer words on each page, these books are perfect for reluctant readers and busy teens (and they're great for book reports because they don't take long to read).
~Sarah Tregay, "Novels in Verse"
For many kids, “poetry” is a dirty word. Plenty of my own students tune out, glaze over, roll their eyes, or outwardly groan at its mere mention... When getting the right book (sometimes any book!) into the hands of the right reader can be such a challenge, finding a way to invest students in poetry can be an uphill battle. For some readers, the gateway might just be fiction, and verse novels are a fantastic blend of poetic form and fiction narrative.
~"Top Ten Novels in Verse by Lauren Strohecker"
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge
Collateral by Ellen Hopkins
Forget Me Not by Carolee Dean
The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf
This Full House by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
(featured on the 2014 New Mexico Battle of the Books Elementary and Middle School booklists)
October Mourning by Lesléa Newman
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan
Pieces of Georgia by Jennifer Bryant
Also check out the Novels in Verse booklist on our Teen Reads Booklist page!