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20 Verse Novels to Shout About this World Poetry Day

A verse novel is a type of narrative poetry, telling a story of novel-length through the medium of poetry rather than prose. There will usually be a large cast, multiple voices, dialogue, narration, description, and action in a novelistic manner.

We love a verse novel here at LoveReading4Kids and they are a brilliant way of engaging the most reluctant of readers, as well as offering something different to avid readers and lovers of poetry.

We'd like to share some of our favourite writers of the form.

The go-to writer of the free verse novel in the UK and Ireland, Crossan won the 2016 CILIP Carnegie Medal as well as the YA Book Prize, the CBI Book of the Year Award and the CLiPPA Poetry Award for her novel, One.  

It is a heartbreaking story, told in verse, of conjoined twins and their everyday life and loves at school and home, fully deserving of its award-winning status.

Stateside Kwame Alexander is a poet, children's book author, playwright, producer, public speaker, performer, and winner of the Newbery Medal for his novel-in-verse, The Crossover. He is a master of the form, using sophisticated poetic devices throughout each of his novels to propel the story and engage even the most reluctant reader. 

An original masterpiece The Crossover is absolutely stunning, both visually and emotionally,  a story about basketball playing twins, Josh and Jordan. Fresh, funny and heart achingly sad, it is a dynamic, vital and gripping story in verse.

Elizabeth Acevedo burst onto the scene in 2019 and is the New York Times bestselling and 2019 Carnegie Medal winning author of The Poet X, a sparky, poignant novel-in-verse in which an unforgettable Latino teenager finds the freedom of “learning to believe in the power of my own words”.

See below some of our favourite verse novels from these writers, as well as a selection of other novels in verse that we believe should be shouted about from the rooftops.

Enjoy!

Long Way Down

Long Way Down

13+ readers YA readers

Author: Jason Reynolds Illustrator: Chris Priestley Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2018

Winner of UKLA Shortlist Book Awards 2019 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019 | Will is only fifteen but he’s experienced more violence and loss than most people might in an entire lifetime. His big brother Shawn was recently shot dead, right in front of him, but as “everybody knows”, “gunshots make everybody/deaf and blind especially/when they make somebody/dead”. While his mom mourns, “sobbing into her palms”, Will knows what he has to do. He must follow the three rules: No crying. No snitching. Revenge. Armed with Shawn’s gun, Will heads down six floors in an elevator on his revenge mission, thinking he knows exactly who he’s going after. When the “spooky ass” elevator stops at each floor and ghosts from the past step into the “vertical coffin”, doubts set in as Will is presented with more facts and finally comes face to face with some big choices (do some rules need to be broken? Does he want out of the cycle?), and more besides. The writing is crisp, clever and dazzlingly compact, with a whole family history and personally-charged societal issues conveyed with powerful precision. The line and page breaks are perfectly constructed, words and phrases frequently have multiple meanings, and Chris Priestley’s raw and resonant illustrations are hauntingly powerful.

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