Kathryn Erskine: Verse Novel a Day for Poetry Month

We’d like to thank Kathy Erskine for this blog post! Kathy has joined us as faculty for many workshops. You might also like to read another of Kathy’s posts, The Verse Novel: If I Can Do It, So Can You.

In honor of Poetry Month, Kathy Erskine decided to feature a “Verse-Novel-a-Day” on her Facebook page. She has graciously allowed us to use those to put together a blog post–and the result is a pretty excellent survey of this powerful art form.

Libertad by Alma FullertonLibertad
By Alma Fullerton

Alma’s my co-faculty at the Novels in Verse workshop!

The Crossover by Kwame AlexanderThe Crossover
By Kwame Alexander

Also check out Booked!

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline WoodsonBrown Girl Dreaming
By Jacqueline Woodson

There’s a reason it has all those stickers on the cover — a LOT of reasons.

Silver People: Voices From the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle. Silver People: Voices From the Panama Canal
By Margarita Engle

Having just visited the Panama Canal, this really enlightened and touched me.

Audacity by Melanie Crowder. Audacity
By Melanie Crowder

Thinking of the beautiful audacity of Loree Griffin Burns who refused to let me be stranded at Logan airport last night and coordinated a grand rescue plan despite the snowstorm…

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech Love That Dog
By Sharon Creech

If you have a 9 year old who thinks he doesn’t like to read–or can’t read– give this to him and watch him mark up the pages (in a good way) with his thoughts.

A Time to Dance, Padma VenkatramanA Time to Dance
By Padma Venkatraman

Padma’s our special guest at the Novels in Verse workshop!

Words With Wings by Nikki GrimesWords With Wings
By Nikki Grimes

I LOVE that it has Mr. (Ed) Spicer in it.

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. BurgSerafina’s Promise
By Ann E. Burg

I often use this in talks to show how we authors pile problem after problem on our characters’ shoulders.

Coaltown Jesus by Ron KoertgeCoaltown Jesus
By Ron Koertge

Hilarious and poignant.

Dust of Eden by Mariko NagaiDust of Eden
By Mariko Nagai

Powerful Japanese internment camp story.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya SonesWhat My Mother Doesn’t Know
By Sonya Sones

A classic and I love the updated cover!

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis PinkneyThe Red Pencil
By Andrea Davis Pinkney

How art and creativity can transcend even the most horrifying events.

The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan WolfThe Watch That Ends the Night
By Allan Wolf

Epic tale (thoroughly researched) of the Titanic, which sank 105 years ago.

How I discovered Poetry by Marilyn NelsonHow I Discovered Poetry
By Marilyn Nelson

This is one of those “how can so few words say so much?” novels.

Paper Hearts by Meg WiviottPaper Hearts
By Meg Wiviott

So beautifully done I didn’t want it to end. You know that feeling? Yup, that.

Death Coming Up the Hill by Chris CroweDeath Coming Up the Hill
By Chris Crowe

It HAD to be the choice for the 17th — read the novel and you’ll understand why.

Caminar by Skila BrownCaminar
By Skila Brown

A way to see a different country and a different life (makes things like rush hour traffic or the wrong kind of toilet paper seem suddenly as unimportant as they are).

Sold by Patricia McCormickSold
By Patricia McCormick

I always use her books as examples of the extraordinary research it takes to create an authentic story.

Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole WeatherfordBecoming Billie Holiday
By Carole Weatherford

The poignant and beautiful story of Eleanora.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha LaiInside Out and Back Again
By Thanhha Lai

With immigration an issue again–or still– this is a particularly beautiful story.

May B. by Caroline Starr RoseMay B.
By Caroline Starr Rose

Great, fast, survival story for any young reader, especially reluctant ones.

Etched in Clay by Andrea ChengEtched in Clay
By Andrea Cheng

Dave the Potter for the older crowd; beautiful.

Witness by Karen HesseWitness
By Karen Hesse

I love the voices — great example of how to make distinct characters even in a brief verse novel.

House Arrest by K.A. HoltHouse Arrest
By K.A. Holt

Wow. Really powerful, poignant and funny. And great voice.

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea NewmanOctober Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
By Leslea Newman

Oh, so painful and hard to read but so necessary.

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn HiltonFull Cicada Moon
By Marilyn Hilton

This was named a Jane Addams Peace Award Honor Book!

CRASHBOOMLOVE by Juan Felipe HerreraCrashBoomLove
By Juan Felipe Herrera

The words are almost spat out in frustration. In the end, even a tough teen needs his mom.

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCallUnder the Mesquite
By Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Beautifully written and the ultimate strong girl book!

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe One and Only Ivan
By Katherine Applegate

For animal lovers of all ages.

Kathryn ErskineKathy spent fifteen years as a lawyer before turning to her first love: writing. She was lucky to work with Patricia Gauch and her debut novel, Quaking, was one of YALSA’s Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Her novel Mockingbird won the 2010 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and her other novels include The Absolute Value of Mike, a Crystal Kite winner, Seeing Red, a Jane Addams Award honor book, and The Badger Knight which published in fall 2014. Kathy has lived all over the world, from The Netherlands—where she was born—to Israel, South Africa, Scotland, Canada, and the United States. Her life has been filled with rich experiences, from a Hogwarts-like boarding school (minus the magic) to the African bush (complete with lions) to an ice-filled harbor. Read more about Kathy at

Posted on: April 25, 2017

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