As mentioned in one of my recent posts, I took a course in children’s lit at Concordia University while I was doing my undergrad. My degree was in creative writing, and within my writing classes I mainly focused on poetry. So I am always intrigued by picture books and novels in verse, whether tightly rhymed or free verse.
Like I also mentioned in that post, writing in rhyme is incredibly, deceptively, maddeningly difficult. It’s very easy to write rhyme but very hard to write good rhyme. You need lines that have the right number of syllables and the right rhythm so that when we read them aloud, it comes naturally and we don’t trip over what we’re saying, or feel that a piece of it is missing (for those interested in literary nitty-gritty: scansion).
Other types of verse have their own issues – even free verse, though it doesn’t have a strict meter, needs some kind of rhythmic flow. Word choice and use of imagery are huge.
But the payoff is that, when it’s done well, books in verse can be really satisfying. There’s something so great about a rhyming picture book that just rolls off your tongue like it’s no big deal. It has a power like music.
So tonight’s blog post is dedicated to good books in verse: picture books, chapter books, and young adult.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
An alphabet rhyme/chant that relates what happens when the whole alphabet tries to climb a coconut tree.
A House is a House for Me
by Mary Ann Hoberman
Lists in rhyme the dwellings of various animals and things.
All Aboard the Dinotrain
by Deb Lund
When dinosaurs seek adventure by taking a train ride, they find the trip has some unexpected surprises along the way.
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.
Out of the Dust
by Karen Hesse
In a series of poems, fifteen-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.
by Sharon Creech
Twelve-year-old Annie ponders the many rhythms of life the year that her mother becomes pregnant, her grandfather begins faltering, and her best friend (and running partner) becomes distant.
Young Adult Books:
by Ellen Hopkins
Chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on the author’s own daughter, and the “monster,” the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or “crank.” (part of a series that also includes Glass and Fallout.)
by Helen Frost
Seven teens facing such problems as pregnancy, closeted homosexuality, and abuse each describe in poetic forms what caused them to leave home and where they found home again.
by Jennifer Roy
From 1939, when Syvia is four and a half years old, to 1945 when she has just turned ten, a Jewish girl and her family struggle to survive in Poland’s Lodz ghetto during the Nazi occupation.