Novels in Verse: Grades 1-4

By Skokie Staff Youth Services

Some novels in verse are a collection of related poem stories, while others tell just one story using a poetic writing style. Either way, here are some of our favorites for kids in grades 1-4. We hope you find them interesting and inspiring.

  • Izzy Kline Has Butterflies: A Novel in Small Moments

    2017 by Ain, Beth Levine

    Having "butterflies in your stomach" describes how some people feel when they are nervous or anxious, and it makes complete sense that Izzy Kline has them. Her parents recently divorced, she’s starting a new school year, an important audition is coming up, and her new friend Quinn may be having a cancer relapse. Sensitive and sweet, this “novel in small moments” is likely to leave an enormous impression. Recommended by Mandy.

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  • Home of the Brave

    2007 by Applegate, Katherine

    Kek is a refugee from Sudan whose father and brother have been killed and whose mother is missing. He is living in Minnesota with relatives and is faced with new experiences like cold weather and snow, and he makes some mistakes like washing dishes in the “machine for washing” instead of the dishwasher. He has so much more to learn than the language! This book is written simply, yet is amazingly powerful and heartwarming. Recommended by Karen and Mary.

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  • Love That Dog

    2001 by Creech, Sharon

    Written several years before most of the books on this list, this novel in verse remains one of our favorites. Jack is not thrilled about having to keep a poetry journal for Miss Stretchberry’s class. Dread slowly turns to appreciation as he begins to better understand the poems he and his classmates are required to read and as he writes his own versions and finds an effective and important outlet for sharing his feelings. Recommended by Lorrie and Shelley.

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  • Missing Mike

    2018 by Green, Shari

    A family quickly fleeing their home to escape rapidly-approaching wildfires is a dramatic way to start a story. Having the family dog run away before they could get him into the car makes it even more suspenseful. But this is more than just a thrilling page-turner. It is a fast-paced and thought-provoking book about loyalty, friendship, and the true meaning of home. Recommended by Mandy.

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  • Garvey's Choice

    2016 by Grimes, Nikki

    Garvey and his dad do not see eye to eye. Garvey enjoys science fiction, reading, and astronomy; Dad wants Garvey to enjoy sports. When his best friend tells him that his “voice is choice” and he “should let others hear it,” might Garvey and his dad find common ground after all? Author Nikki Grimes uses tanka poetry to help the reader feel Garvey’s emotions through this powerful masterpiece about self-image, fitting in, and--literally and figuratively--finding one’s own voice. Recommended by Laura P.

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  • The Poet's Dog

    2016 by MacLachlan, Patricia

    Teddy, the remarkable canine companion of a poet named Sylvan, can talk. Only children and poets can understand him, and that works out perfectly when Nick and Flora get lost in a blizzard and he approaches them to quietly ask if they need help. The three become fast friends in this charming and heartfelt story of love, loss, and friendship. Recommended by Mandy.

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  • Words with Wings

    2013 by Grimes, Nikki

    Gabriella’s daydreaming is causing her some trouble. When her parents separate and Gabby and her mom move to a new place, she is more than a little worried about what her new classmates and teachers will think of her. Is it possible that someone will see her daydreams as gifts rather than problems? Might that person also be able to convince Gabby that writing them down could be a solution to her worries? Recommended by Caitlin and Lorrie.

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  • Becoming Muhammad Ali

    2020 by Patterson, James

    The alternating fictionalized voices of Ali’s childhood friend Lucky (written in prose) and Cassius himself (written in free verse) have such a powerful impact, you could say they pack a punch! Structured in “rounds” instead of chapters, this knock-out novel provides the reader with a well-rounded understanding of who the titular character was before and after he became a famous boxer, including important information about the social and historical context. Recommended by Kassy and Lorrie.

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  • Where I Live

    2007 by Spinelli, Eileen

    Diana loves everything about her life: her house, her best friend, Rose, and even her sometimes annoying little sister. But then Diana and her family have to move six hours away to live with her Grandpa Joe and she has to say goodbye to all she has known. She is sad and misses her old life. Diana’s feelings are beautifully and authentically captured in a series of free verse poems and the illustrations that accompany them. Recommended by Karen.

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  • Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

    2010 by Sternberg, Julie

    By the time any young person is as old as eight-year-old Eleanor, they've probably had at least a bad day or two. Maybe even an awful day. But one that is so terrible it’s “like pickle juice on a cookie” and lasts for an entire month? Could a story like this possibly have a happy ending? Anyone who has experienced similarly strong emotions or loss will appreciate reading that they are not the only one. Everyone else will gain a healthy dose of empathy from this special little book. Recommended by Lorrie.

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