About three or four years ago I discovered books written in verse. I feel kind of silly admitting that I really didn’t know this was a ‘thing’- to tell a complete story in poetry format. I thought poetry was poetry (all vague and left to interpretation.) Happy to see the error of my ways and now I’m actively seeking out books written in verse! Here are a few I’ve loved for National Poetry Month…
Long Way Down, Jason Reynolds
I recommend this one all the time! It’s sad and gritty and makes you ask yourself some hard questions. As a middle grade book, it’s appropriate for teens to read and understand what death and violence can do to a person mentally. It’s a great read that I put in the hands of anyone I can. Plus, there’s a graphic novel of it now!
A gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. He gets on the elevator and thinks about justice the entire way down.
The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo
This was the first book I’d read by Acevedo but it hasn’t been the last! I loved the magical element to this book. I normally don’t reach for straight contemporary books and so this hint of magic helped to draw me in. Acevedo is the master of books in verse! If you love this one you should also check out With the Fire on High. It’s soooo good!
A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world.
Punching the Air, Ibi Zoboi
This is such a great book and I loved reading it in verse. At times it was hard to read because the main character is just a boy and he’s made to go through so much and grow up so quickly. The book made me feel angry and helpless and I’m so glad I read it.
Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.
The Black Flamingo, Dean Atta (adding to the TBR)
I’ve had my eye on this one for awhile now. I’m hoping to get to it soon. Someone said that books written in verse are amazing on audio, so I think I’m going to give the audiobook of this a try.
A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.
Have you tried a book in verse?