Category Archives: Poetry

Novels in Verse

Novels in Verse

Do you like to read poetry?
April is National Poetry Month

 Read these books and see
all that a novel written in verse can be!

Has a teacher, librarian or parent asked you to diversify your reading? Meaning they don’t want you ONLY reading graphic novels or sci-fi? (What they mean is, try something different – read outside your normal box!) Try one of these books written in verse. Great stories in a quick to read version!


Moo Moo by Sharon Creech – Brand New! This uplifting tale reminds us that if we’re open to new experiences, life is full of surprises. Following one family’s momentous move from the city to rural Maine, an unexpected bond develops between twelve-year-old Reena and one very ornery cow.
Love That Dog Love That Dog by Sharon Creech – A young student, who comes to love poetry through a personal understanding of what different famous poems mean to him, surprises himself by writing his own inspired poem. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2003-2004, 4-6 Nominee.
Hate That Cat Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech – Jack is studying poetry again in school, and he continues to write poems reflecting his understanding of famous poems and how they relate to his life.
Brown Girl Dreaming Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson – Jacqueline Woodson, one of today’s finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. National Book Award 2014
The Crossover The Crossover by Kwame Alexander – Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.
Out of the Dust Out of the Dust by Sharon Hesse – In a series of poems, fourteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family’s wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression.
May B May B by Caroline Starr Rose – When a failed wheat crop nearly bankrupts the Betterly family, Pa pulls twelve-year-old May from school and hires her out to a couple new to the Kansas frontier. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2014-2015, 4-6 Nominee.
Words with Wings Words With Wings by Nikki Grimes – Gabby daydreams to tune out her parents’ arguments, but when her parents divorce and she begins a new school, daydreaming gets her into trouble. Her mother scolds her for it, her teacher keeps telling her to pay attention, and the other kids tease her…until she finds a friend who also daydreams and her teacher decides to work a daydreaming-writing session into every school day. With a notebook “thick withdaydreams,” Gabby grows more confident about herself and her future. This verse novel poignantly celebrates the power of writing and the inspiration a good teacher can deliver. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2016-2017, 4-6 Nominee.
The Red Pencil The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney – After her tribal village is attacked by militants, Amira, a young Sudanese girl, must flee to safety at a refugee camp, where she finds hope and the chance to pursue an education in the form of a single redpencil and the friendship and encouragement of a wise elder.

Books recommended by: Kristen Williams, guest blogger and former Indianapolis school teacher

The books on this page are chapter book stories…written in verse. You might not think of these kinds of books right away when you think of poetry. The word “poetry” probably makes you think of “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and Shel Silverstein. But these books are poetry too, and how amazing, an author writing a whole chapter book in verse! If you like these stories, here are some more:

Garvey's ChoiceApplesauce WeatherBookedCaminarFinding WondersUnboundBrains for LunchAll the Broken PiecesGone FishingInside Out and Back AgainLittle Dog LostPlanet Middle SchoolRunning With TrainsThe Wild Book
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“Shel”ebrate National Poetry Month with Every Thing On It

“Shel”ebrate National Poetry Month with Every Thing On It

Every Thing On It

Some of you might already have read Shel Silverstein’s most famous book of poetry, Where the Sidewalk Ends. Everything On It is just the same – full of funny poems and imaginative funny drawings. It was published in 2011. Shel died in 1999 though…so where did this book come from? Apparently, when he died Shel left quite a few finished poems that he had not had a chance to publish in a book yet. For this book, his family selected the poems. Pretty nice to get one more gift from Uncle Shelby. You can tell by some of the poem titles they’re all his: “Burpin’ Ben,” “Nasty Nancy’s Store,” and “Transparent Tim.” Author: Shel Silverstein

Here are a couple more funny poetry books by Shel plus another one by another funny poet – Jack Prelutsky. The last one, For Laughing Out Loud – that one is a collection of funny poems written by a bunch of different people.
Where the Sidewalk Ends A Light in the Attic My Dog May Be a Genius For Laughing Out Loud
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Meet the Author: Ashley Bryan

Meet the Author: Ashley Bryan

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an award-winning artist? Words to My Life’s Song is an autobiography that gives a glimpse into the imaginings and memories of three-time Coretta Scott King Award winning illustrator, Ashley Bryan. Mr Bryan frames the book as an afternoon spent walking around his home on an island in Maine. As we wander, Mr. Bryan tells us about his life growing up in the Bronx, going to art school, being in the army, teaching art, and discovering his passion for illustrating books. Along the way, we see a lot of his colorful paintings, stained glass and cut paper creations. This book is a bright, joyful celebration of life and creativity.

Recommended by: Hannah Wheeler – Lawrence

Mr. Bryan book, “Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives & Dreams Brought to Life” was named a 2017 Newbery Medal Honor Book as well as being named a 2017 Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book for both his writing and illustrations.


Books written and/or illustrated by Ashely Bryan:



More about Black History:

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Staff Pick: What the Heart Knows

Staff Pick: What the Heart Knows

What the Heart Knows

Presents a collection of inspirational poems that offer hope, wisdom, comfort, and humor for life’s challenging moments.

A tall and thin volume of poems to invite our better thoughts and actions, complete with lovely illustrations and a red ribbon book mark.   Find the words here to repair a friendship, gift a spell, bless the curl of the cat, or the smell of a dog.   These poems are sorted into chants, charms, spells, laments, and blessings.  Wonderful to read even better to share; memorize, add your voice, and share with someone of your choice.

Recommended by: Barbara Obergfell, OutreachLibrary



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April National Poetry Month – Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley

April National Poetry Month – Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley

rileyIn 1912, Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley finished his last recording session for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Out of around twenty recordings made during five days of readings, only four of the discs were ever issued by Victor.

The James Whitcomb Riley Recordings at the Indianapolis Public Library consist of 17 unpublished recordings of Mr. Riley reading his work. There are sad poems, happy poems, stories, tales, and a funny little speech, The Soldier’s Story, that Riley must have told many times.

These may well be the only copies in existence of these titles – the only copy, for instance, of Riley himself reading When the Frost is on the Punkin. There is a lot of static…there were no high fidelity recordings in 1912, but you can follow along with the words and hear the poet himself read the poem the way he meant it to be read.


James Whitcomb Riley Books:

The Best of James Whitcomb Riley Child Rhymes When the Frost is on the Punkin The Gobble-uns’ll get you ef you don’t watch out!
Little Orphant Annie

Recommended by: Janet Spaulding, Selection Services

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