I’m enjoying a growing trend in Middle Grade reading: novels in verse.
These stories have a narrative arc, and character development, and all the things you’d expect from a novel-length work. But, they are told through the medium of poetry rather than prose.
Two of the main things I love about this type of novel are the beauty of the language, and the accessibility of the stories. This style of writing is particularly well suited for people who claim to not like poetry, or kids who are reluctant readers. There is a lot of white space in poetry, which can be very welcoming to readers who feel stuck when they see a page full of words.
Through a connected series of poems, Woodson chronicles her life growing up in the 1960s and 70s in both the North and the South. I gained a much deeper appreciation of the landscape of our country at that time while reading her touching, often funny, and deeply personal story.
My favorites were the “how to listen” poems.
how to listen #3
Middle of the night
my grandfather is coughing
me upright. Startled.
how to listen #7
Even the silence
has a story to tell you.
Just listen. Listen.
Give yourself the chance to listen to her words. They’re beautiful.
The Crossover is a heart-pumping story of basketball phemon twin-brothers Josh and Jordan Bell. But as the jacket flap says: Josh has more than hoops in his blood. He’s got a river of rhymes flowing through him – a sick flow that helps him find his rhythm when everything’s on the line.
This book is a natural summer reading pick for sports lovers. The word play, especially during scenes that describe basketball games, is really fun.
…Be careful though,
’cause now I’m CRUNKing
and my dipping will leave you
SLIPPING on the floor, while I
to the finish with a fierce finger roll…
Straight to the hole:
However, it’s not exclusively for sports fans. There’s a tender story of family at the heart of this novel that will appeal to all readers.
Basketball Rule #1
In this game of life
your family is the court
and the ball is your heart.
No matter how good you are,
no matter how down you get,
on the court.