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Novels Written in Verse

Yes - you can read poetry!

Many students have an aversion to reading poetry. Or they think it's too hard. Every year I challenge my students to read Free Verse novels. Luckily nowadays, there are MANY choices! Here are some of my favorites. 

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Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

Speaking of not liking poetry...the boy in this novel hates poetry. Every time his teacher assigns poem writing, he feels like his brain is empty. Jack finds himself writing more and more and realizes he has a lot to say! Grades 4+


Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech

As a companion to Love That Dog, Jack finds himself learning to love a fat black cat and finds new ways to express himself through more of his poetry. Grades 4+


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Twins Josh and Jordan are basketball stars and have tough shoes to fill with their father being a former pro basketball player. They follow the rules of family, basketball, and school. Poems have a flow and rhythm to them that readers will find different and interesting. Grades 6+


Booked by Kwame Alexander

Another great sports free verse! There is a little bit of soccer, family, love, and friendship in 12 year old Nick's life. Heartfelt and full of great poems and words, any reluctant reader will be pulled in with this accessible format. Grades 5+


Rebound by Kwame Alexander

Prequel to The Crossover, readers get a look at Josh and Jordan's father's childhood when he discovers basketball. Many readers will connect to the pre-teen peer pressure and issues and be left with non-rhyming poems that have the rhythm Kwame Alexander is famous for. Grades 6+


Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

1o year old Ha is a refugee from Saigon (Vietnam) fleeing the Vietnam War and immigrates to Alabama. Such an eye-opening way to show the refugee experience through the eyes of a child. Many of these poems are short and moving. Grades 4+


Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Another refugee story about Kek, who flees Africa and comes to a foster family in Minnesota. Most of his family is dead, his mother is missing. Everything is new for him - the first poem is about his experience with snow and the cold. Grades 5+


The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Amira is forced from her home in Sudan when attackers arrive and she is forced to flee to a refugee camp. A look into a young girl's journey to safety. Her only hope becomes a red pencil in which she can finally start to read and write. Great themes on refugees, education, war, gender equality. Grades 5+


Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Based on her own childhood, Jacqueline Woodson shares what it was like to grow up in the south and in NY during the 1960s. Themes of civil rights and racial equality. Grades 5+


The Last 5th Grade at Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan

Written in varying techniques, 18 students write poems to document their school year as their school moves forward to be demolished. There is a student voice here for any student reader! Grades 5+


Missing Mike by Shari Green

Cara adopts a one-eyed mutt who she adores. When wildfires make her family evacuate, she cannot find Mike and is forced to leave him behind. Readers may not relate to the danger of wildfires, but they can relate to the loyalty between a girl and her dog. Grades 5+

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Top Middle Grade Books on Global Issues

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The Breadwinner by deborah Ellis

One of the many middle grade fiction/historical fiction books, set in Kabul, Afghanistan, 11 year old Parvana and her family live in a one room apartment after their home was bombed. When Parvana's father is taken away by the Taliban, she must become the breadwinner for her family. Her mother and older sister are not allowed to leave the house without a man's permission. She has 2 younger siblings as well. Parvana cuts her hair and steps foot out of her apartment as a boy where is finds how much better she is treated and how much more freedom she has to bring back necessities for her family.  This is the first of a trilogy and touches about the themes of gender equality, challenges in war-torn countries, and poverty. A must read for students to understand these global issues. There is also a graphic novel version! 

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