8 Incredible Novels in Verse for Tweens
by Dena McMurdie
A few weeks ago, I handed my 11-year-old daughter a novel written in verse. She’d never read one before, but she was willing to give the new format a try. My daughter has always been sensitive, so I hoped that she would connect with poetry. I was right, and she eagerly devoured each page and asked for more books written in verse.
Poetry packs a punch, and novels in verse are perfect for tweens that feel deeply. It’s also worth noting that verse takes up less room on the page, making these stories quick to read. That’s an added plus for kids who need shorter and less time-consuming books.
Who says that rhyming books are just for little kids? Send your tween on a rollicking adventure that they won’t be able to set down. With a zany and fast-paced story and plenty of illustrations packed into the pages, this book is perfect for kids who grew up on a steady diet of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein.
When her older brother goes missing from his college campus, Maddie’s family falls apart. With her parents distracted and her sister acting out, Maddie gets left to her own devices as she tries to figure out where her brother went. Filled with hope, family secrets, and drama, this novel tackles themes like climate change and mental illness in an accessible way.
Ellie has gotten bullied about her weight since her fifth birthday, and she’s learned to avoid drawing attention to herself. But with the support of her father, therapist, and a new neighbor, Ellie discovers how to stand up for herself and shrug off the cruel words of others. This heartfelt novel puts readers in Ellie’s shoes and shows them what it’s like to get bullied for your physical appearance.
Fans of Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai will love this novel-in-verse that tackles immigration, fitting into a new culture, and finding a place to call home. As two girls get ready for bed, their mother tells them stories that weave together her childhood and a mythical god’s daughter’s experiences.
Brown Girl Dreaming
Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir is a powerful story about growing up during the Civil Rights Movement and finding her voice. Woodson’s emotional novel won several prestigious awards and has become a modern classic that will captivate readers interested in history, art, and social issues.
Closer to Nowhere
Tweens that enjoy realistic fiction about family dynamics will love this award-winning novel-in-verse. When his mother dies, Cal moves in with his cousin Hannah and her family, and both kids’ lives change forever. At first, the cousins seem too different to get along. But as time goes on, they learn that they are more alike than they thought.
If you’re looking for a tender story about a young refugee figuring how she fits into the world, this is the perfect book. When Samira and her family arrive in Bangladesh, she feels lost, alone, and afraid. But when she joins a surfing club for girls, she finds sisterhood and belonging. Kids that enjoy contemporary stories about friendship will love this touching novel in verse.
This #OwnVoices novel in verse set during the pandemic will capture your heart. When Malian visits her grandparents on the reservation, she doesn’t expect a pandemic to prevent her from returning home. But with COVID-19 keeping everyone isolated, Malian has no choice but to stay on the reservation. While she’s there, she befriends a local dog, learns about her heritage, and discovers a community she loves.