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Sep 26

YA Reads: Verse Novels

Posted on September 26, 2023 at 9:12 AM by Maggie Witte

We all know the standard novel: narratives told through prose, a writing style that does not have rhyming or metrical structure. It uses language and grammar in ways that make it similar to how we speak in our everyday lives. However, some novels and books are written in a different style called “verse”.

Verse novels have been around for thousands of years. However, we don’t really think of them other than perhaps for school or as classics. So each new verse novel seems unusual and, well, novel, as they break from the prose novel tradition and aren’t considered to fall completely under the poetry label. Verse novels use narrative poetry to tell the story, be it simple or complex, metered, rhyming, or free verse. It can be daunting to try something new but sometimes poetry can enhance the story being told.

There are some fantastic verse novels out there. We’ve gathered a list of just some of the verse novels we have in our collection. Why not select one of these as your next reading choice?

DB 79528 The crossover by Kwame Alexander

Annotation: Twin fourteen-year-old basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court, as their father ignores his declining health. Told in hip-hop style verse. For senior high and older readers. 2014.

DB 91384 Jazz owls: a novel of the Zoot Suit Riots by Margarita Engle

Annotation: A novel in verse. In early 1940s Los Angeles, Mexican Americans Marisela and Lorena work in canneries all day, then jitterbug with sailors all night with their zoot-suit wearing younger brother, Ray. But one night, racial violence leads to murder. Some violence. For junior and senior high and older readers. 2018.

DB 112706 Don’t call me a hurricane by Ellen Hagan

Annotation: "Told in verse, seventeen-year-old Eliza, an environmental activist, is navigating the after-effects of a hurricane that devastated her coastal town while falling for Milo, a rich tourist who is at the center of a redevelopment that could put her community in danger--again." -- Provided by publisher.  --  Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers.

DB 108898 The ghosts of Rose Hill by R.M. Romero

Annotation: "Sent to stay with her aunt in Prague and witness the humble life of an artist, Ilana Lopez--a biracial Jewish girl--finds herself torn between her dream of becoming a violinist and her immigrant parents' desire for her to pursue a more stable career. When she discovers a forgotten Jewish cemetery behind her aunt's cottage, she meets the ghost of a kindhearted boy named Benjamin, who died over a century ago. As Ilana restores Benjamin's grave, he introduces her to the enchanted side of Prague, where ghosts walk the streets and their kisses have warmth. But Benjamin isn't the only one interested in Ilana. Rudolph Wassermann, a man with no shadow, has become fascinated with her and the music she plays. He offers to share his magic, so Ilana can be with Benjamin and pursue her passion for violin. But after Ilana discovers the truth about Wassermann and how Benjamin became bound to the city, she resolves to save the boy she loves, even if it means losing him-forever." -- Provided by publisher.  --  Unrated. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2022.

DB 106809 Ain’t burned all the bright by Jason Reynolds

Annotation: A novel in verse. A young Black boy grapples with what it means to be Black and unable to breathe, and how the people and things you love most are actually the oxygen you need. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2022.

DB 100557 The black flamingo by Dean Atta

Annotation: A novel in verse. As a mixed-race gay teen, Michael's never felt like he fit in with one racial identity. But when he discovers London's drag society, he finally finds where he belongs--and the Black Flamingo is born. Commercial audiobook. Stonewall Book Award. For senior high and older readers. 2019.

DB 99823 Clap when you land by Elizabeth Acevedo 

Annotation: A novel in verse. Teens Camino Rios, of the Dominican Republic, and Yahaira Rios, of New York City, are devastated to learn of their father's death in a plane crash and stunned to learn of each other's existence. Some strong language. Commercial audiobook. For senior high and older readers. 2020.

DB 99262 We come apart by Brian Conaghan

Annotation: A novel in verse. While serving a community service sentence for young offenders in London, a Romanian immigrant boy and a troubled girl fall in love. Strong language and some violence. For senior high and older readers. 2017.

These books are available on BARD for download in seconds. Access the reading materials you want when you want them with the tap of a few buttons. Take your books on the go using the BARD mobile app available for Apple iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire devices. Call or email the Kansas Talking Books office for more information at 1-800-362-0699 or