April is National Poetry Month and what better way to honor the occasion than by reading some poetry? One of my favorite book formats to dive into is the teen novel in verse. These books use poetry to tell a complete novel-length narrative. While these books and authors make up a relatively small part of the publishing market, there are plenty of engaging, powerful selections to pick up. One of the things I love most about novels in verse is that they can often be read in a single sitting, yet the authors can pack so much emotion into their expertly chosen words.
Here are four selections to get a taste of this format:
Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill tells a fictionalized version of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 with three distinct teen girl voices, giving an unexpected, raw take on these historic events.
Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen also takes a look at historical events, though these are in the much more recent past. Set in 1993, high school senior Mira's carefully laid plans unravel when she discovers that her father is gay and living with HIV during the height of the epidemic in New York City.
For something more contemporary, Christine Heppermann's Ask Me How I Got Here is a gut-punch of a story. Addie, a driven student and cross-country star, has to come to terms with her faith and identity when she becomes pregnant.
Nikki Grimes' Bronx Masquerade can be considered a modern classic, making a splash on its publication in 2003, though it still resonates today. Readers get a peek into the varied lives of the students of a Bronx high school who share their poetry in a classroom open mic setting.
If you want more suggestions, check out the Novels in Verse booklist put together by our local teen librarians!