Traditionally, we consider novels to be arranged in chapter by chapter format. In recent years, many authors have expanded the novel form by presenting the novel as verse novels, where the text is written as poems. Over the past several months, I have included several recommendations of novels that appear in book free verse format, and here I am providing additional lists for further consideration:



Alexander, Kwame. The Crossover (also: Booked)

Applegate, Katherine. Home of the Brave

Creech, Sharon. Love That Dog (Sequel: Hate that Cat)

Frost, Helen. Spinning through the Universe

Herrick, Steven. Naked Bunyip Dancing

Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust

Lai, Thanha. Inside Out and Back Again

Pignat, Caroline. The Gospel Truth

Porter, Pamela. The Crazy Man

Woodson, Jacqueline. Locomotion (also: Peace, Locomotion)



Alexander, Kwame. Booked

Creech, Sharon. Moo

Crossen, Sarah. One

Davis, Andrea Pinkney. The Red Pencil

Donwerth-Chikamatsu, Annie. Somewhere Along

Hilton, Marilyn. Full Cicada Moon

Shovan, Laura. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Laura Shovan

Sonnichsen A. L. Red Butterfly

Wissinger, Tamera Will. Gone Fishing

Woodson, Jacqueline.  Brown Girl Dreaming.



The following titles invite readers to consider the plights of refugees The are heartwarming and promote compassion for characters who are resilient and optimistic in their determination to  find a place of safety and a thing called family in a world that considers their past, present and future lives. I highly recommend these titles be used in grade five to seven classrooms to help young people consider issues of immigration

Applegate, Katherine. Home of the Brave

Burg, Ann E. All the Broken Pieces

Lai, Thanhha. Inside Out and Back Again

Pinkney, Andrea Davis. The Red Pencil



Clark, Kristen Elizabeth. Freakboy

Herrick, Steven. The Wolf (also: By the River)

Hopkins, Ellen. Tricks

Koertge, Ron. The Brimstone Journals

Leavitt, Martine. My Book of Life by Angel

Major, Kevin. Ann and Seamus

Phillips, Wendy. Fishtailing

Pignat, Caroline. The Gospel Truth

Wild, Margaret. Jinx

Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac and D. Foster



This past spring I had the privilege of working with ERNEST AGBUYA and his Grade Seven Students at Queen Victoria Public School in downtown Toronto. Ernest and I worked together to develop a month long investigation of Free Verse Novels.

Ten Events that Explore Free Verse Poetry

  1. INDEPENDENT READING: Twenty five free verse novels were offered on display. After a  brief talk, eeach student chose to read a novel independently.
  2. RESPONSE: CREATING A FICTIONAL JOURNAL As a response to the novel, students wrote a diary entry from one of the character’s point    of view.    Students could choose to write the entry in free verse format or not.
  3. SNIPPETS: Prose into Free Verse: A Demonstration LessonA sentence written as prose was displayed on the smart board. As a class we explored ways to transform this sentence into free verse style.
  4. TRANSFORMING STUDENT WRITING INTO POETRY: Students then were challenged to transform a sentence from their own writing into a short free verse poem.
  5. EXPLORING A THEME OF FREE VERSE POEMS: Free Verse poems centred on the theme of bullying were distributed to each student. Students met in groups to discuss themes, issues and questions inspired by the poem
  6. BLACKOUT POETRY: Teacher demonstrated how to create a blackout poem by striking out passage on a photocopied page, leaving words scattered throughout the page, thus creating a free verse poem. Students independently created a free verse poem using a photocopied passage from a novel
  7. THE GOSPEL TRUTH by Caroline Pignat. As a class, we read and responded to one passage from the novel The Gospel Truth by discussing 1. What we know 2. How we felt 3. What we wondered about. Students were each given a different passage from the novel. Student worked in groups to summarize and synthesize information.
  8. CHORAL DRAMATIZATION: Students worked in groups of four or five to present a free verse poem chorally by dividing lines amongst group members, exploring voices and    movement to present the poem.
  9. REFLECTIONS: Students responded in writing to the following prompts:    1. Here’s what I learned about free verse poems… ii. Here is something I enjoyed / didn’t enjoy about reading a free verse novel…iii. Reading a free verse novel is similar/ different to reading other fiction because…
  10. CULMINATING PROJECT: TRANSFORMING PROSE TO POETRY: A culminating project invited the 17 students create a Free Verse Novel version of the novel, WONDER by R. J Palacio.  Each student was given a short passage from the novel, each passage representing a different character voice.  Students transformed the narrative into a free verse poem and the 17 poems were assembled into package, photocopied for each student. The following excerpted poem serves as a sample of the students’ work:


    According to Auggie




    The names fly past like wind,

    stinging my teary eyes as I head

    to the washroom.

    The wrenching pain in my gut

    isn’t from a stomach bug.

    It’s the laughing voices swirling around my brain until




    Lizard face.

    Rat boy.


    These names don’t define me.

    I am August.

    SHOUT OUT: Movie Recommendation


This documentary tells the story of Owen Suskind, who was diagnosed with autism in the 1990’s and who made sense of the world from watching animated Disney films. The director follows Owen in recent years when he graduates from high school, sets up a new home to live independently, and also discovers the tribulations of falling in love. I so admired Owen’s parents, his brother, and this resilient – wise – character.  See this film. (NOTE: I ordered the book written by Owen’s father Ron Suskind.