Terrific Novels in Verse

You don't have to be a poetry fan to get hooked on novels written in free verse. They attract many a reader -- and even reluctant readers -- with their knack for telling a story using few words in an engaging way. All that welcome white space on the page can make reading seem more inviting. And even the grittiest topics can seem easier to handle in this spare poetic form. Our list of novels in verse for kids and teens includes historical fiction, straight-from-the headlines stories about current issues, an immigrant tale, and family- and sports-themed coming-of-age stories. For more books with compelling free verse and poetry, see our lists Poetry for Tweens and 10 Powerful Poetry Books for Teens.

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May B.

age 8+

Riveting and moving account of girl's struggle for survival.

By: Caroline Starr Rose (2012)
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Odder

age 8+

Poignant, hopeful free-verse tale of orphaned otter.

By: Katherine Applegate (2022)
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Singing with Elephants

age 8+

Tween finds belonging in lyrical novel in verse.

By: Margarita Engle (2022)
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The Crossover

age 9+

Soaring, poignant, novel in verse hits all the right spots.

By: Kwame Alexander (2014)
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Full Cicada Moon

age 9+

Girl beats stereotypes in powerful free-verse novel.

By: Marilyn Hilton (2015)
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Red, White, and Whole

age 9+

Emotional novel in verse follows 1983 Indian American teen.

By: Rajani LaRocca (2021)
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Rez Dogs

age 9+

Lyrical celebration of culture, connection in time of COVID.

By: Joseph Bruchac (2021)
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Before the Ever After

age 10+

Tween copes with father's illness in touching verse novel.

By: Jacqueline Woodson (2020)
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Brown Girl Dreaming

age 10+

Captivating poems depict coming-of-age in tumultuous 1960s.

By: Jacqueline Woodson (2014)
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Emmy in the Key of Code

age 10+

Coding, music, and friendship in inspiring free-verse novel.

By: Aimee Lucido (2019)
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Inside Out and Back Again

age 10+

Inspiring, educational immigrant story told in free verse.

By: Thanhha Lai (2011)
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Rebound

age 10+

Heartfelt, soaring, fast-break story of loss and growth.

By: Kwame Alexander (2018)
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Ain't Burned All the Bright

age 12+

Emotional, artistic reflection on COVID, racial strife.

By: Jason Reynolds (2022)
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American Ace

age 12+

Moving, fast-paced novel-in-verse; great for teen boys.

By: Marilyn Nelson (2015)
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Jazz Owls: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots

age 12+

Vibrant novel in verse shows anti-Latino racism in '40s L.A.

By: Margarita Engle (2018)
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Long Way Down

age 12+

Gripping, unnerving story of teen boy contemplating revenge.

By: Jason Reynolds (2017)
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BOOK

The Door of No Return

age 12+

Moving verse tale of an African boy's capture into slavery.

By: Kwame Alexander (2022)
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Under the Mesquite

age 12+

Latina teen faces mom's cancer in award-winning verse novel.

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Kent State

age 13+

Powerful novel-in-verse tells story of university shooting.

By: Deborah Wiles (2020)
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One

age 13+

Beautiful, emotional free-verse novel about conjoined twins.

By: Sarah Crossan (2015)
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