“You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.”
-Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom
One great way to find poetry in everyday life is through a novel in verse. Novels in verse are stories written using poetry instead of the usual sentence and paragraph form. The poems, often written from the point of view of several characters, tell a complete story in an unexpected way.
Some excellent novels in verse explore heartbreaking, yet hopeful historical fiction.
The Colors of the Rain: Reeling from the loss of his father, 10-year-old Paulie and his sister must move in with their Aunt Bee and rediscover what it means to be a family. Combine all this with the racial tension of school desegregation battles happening in Texas in 1972, and you have a compelling, poetic novel.
Rebound follows 12-year-old Chuck Bell through the summer after his father's death. He is sent to stay with his grandparents and reluctantly learns about basketball, jazz and who he wants to become. (This is the prequel to another stellar novel in verse by Kwame Alexander, the Newbery Medal winning The Crossover.)
Dust of Eden: Mina Masako Tagawa is a 12-year-old Japanese-American girl living with her family in Seattle in 1941, when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurs. How her family works together after being forced to move to an internment camp shows resilience and hope.
For fans of more contemporary settings, try one of these novels in verse:
Garvey's Choice is masterfully written using Japanese tanka poems. These five-line, 31-syllable poems tell the story of a bullied middle school boy who struggles to live up to his father's unrealistic expectations. When he finds friends who encourage him to pursue his talents, he finds hope that people can grow and change.
When 11-year-old Caera's family is given only 10 minutes to evacuate their home due to raging wildfires, her beloved rescue dog, Mike, is nowhere to be found. After a terrifying escape from the flames, Caera can't stop Missing Mike. This lyrical novel shows how Caera learns to be grateful for what she has and find a new definition of home.