100 Must-Read YA Novels in Verse

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Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

While we at the Riot take some time off to rest and catch up on our reading, we’re re-running some of our favorite posts from the last several months. Enjoy our highlight reel, and we’ll be back with new stuff on Monday, July 11th.

This post originally ran March 22, 2016.


One of my favorite formats, and one that’s abundant in the young adult designation in particular, is the verse format. I love novels, as well as non-fiction, that is thoughtfully and skillfully crafted in verse. It’s a skill few writers possess well, since it’s so much more than simply breaking up prose into lines and calling it done. There needs to be clear thought and purpose behind the format, since it reflects the voice and perspective of the character.

But damn, when a verse book is done well, it is done well. The craft behind it, the voice that drives it, and the way it builds a story and character and time period and setting can make verse books spectacular.

Want to get started? Let me offer up 100 YA books in verse. These range from novels to non-fiction, as this category of books is privileged to have writers who can easily navigate both through poetry. Because YA has writers who are prolific in their verse writing, I’m limiting selections to no more than 2 books per author, meaning that this list will showcase dozens and dozens of unique writers and perspectives. I’ve marked with a * those authors who have far more than two YA verse novels so that the eager can dive realllllllllly deep. Some of these flirt with the middle grade/YA line, but I’m including them because the few here add to the dynamic format.

I’ve also only listed first titles in a series, in order to offer up a wider variety of reads. Finally, again in the interest of offering the widest range of books possible, I’ve included some verse titles that the entire book is not in verse, but rather, parts of it are or individual voices in a cast are.

Get ready to get your verse reading on!


100 must read ya books in verse


1. 5-to-1 by Holly Bodger

2. After the Death of Anna Gonzales by Terri Fields

3. After The Kiss by Tera Elan McVoy

4. All The Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg*

5. All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder*

6. Amiri & Odette, A Love Story by Walter Dean Myers

7. And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

8. Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann

9. Audacious by Gabrielle Prendergrast

10. Audacity by Melanie Crowder

11. Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

12. A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

13. Beanball by Gene Fehler

14. Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

15. Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford

16. The Braid by Helen Frost*

17. Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes

18. Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

19. By the River by Steven Herrick*

20. Caminar by Skila Brown

21. Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge*

22. Crank by Ellen Hopkins*

23. Crash Boom Love by Juan Felipe Herrera

24. Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips

25. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

26. The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

27. The Death of Jayson Porter by Jaime Adoff

28. Displacement by Thalia Chaltas

29. Escaping Tornado Season by Julie Williams

30. Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

31. Family by Micol Ostow

32. The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba by Margarita Engle*

33. Fishtailing by Wendy Phillips

34. Forget Me Not by Carolee Dean

35. Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

36. The Geography of Girlhood by Kirsten Smith

37. Ghosting by Edith Pattou

38. Girl Coming in for a Landing by April Halprin Wayland

39. A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes

40. Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

41. The Good Braider by Terry Farish

42. A Heart Like Ringo Starr by Linda Oatman High

43. Heaven Looks A Lot Like A Mall by Wendy J Maas

44. Hidden by Helen Frost*

45. How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson

46. How To (Un)cage A Girl by Francesca Lia Block

47. Hugging The Rock by Susan Taylor Brown

48. I Don’t Want to Be Crazy by Samantha Schutz

49. Identical by Ellen Hopkins

50. Karma by Cathy Ostlere

51. Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick

52. Kissing Annabel by Stephen Herrick

53. The Language Inside by Holly Thompson

54. Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath

55. Loose Threads by Lorie Ann Grover

56. The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl and Random Boy by Marie Jaskulka

57. Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

58. Make Lemonade by Virgina Euwer Wolff

59. My Book of Life By Angel by Martine Levitt

60. October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman

61. One by Sarah Crossan

62. One of Those Hideous Books Where The Mother Dies by Sonya Sones*

63. Orchards by Holly Thompson

64. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

65. Out of This Place by Emma Cameron

66. Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott

67. Planet Pregnancy  by Linda Oatman High

68. Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan

69. Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block

70. Reaching For Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

71. The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

72. The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

73. Rubber Houses by Ellen Yeomans

74. Running Back to Ludie by Angela Johnson

75. The Secret of Me by Meg Kearney

76. Seeing Emily by Joyce Lee Wong

77. Shakespeare Bats Clean-Up by Ron Koertge

78. Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

79. Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen

80. Sold by Patricia McCormick

81. Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

82. The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

83. Splintering by Eireann Corrigan

84. Split Image by Mel Glenn*

85. Street Love by Walter Dean Myers

86. The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle

87. Sweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell

88. Three Rivers Rising: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood by Jame Richards

89. A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

90. Two Girls Staring At The Ceiling by Lucy Frank

91. Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

92. Unlocked by Ryan G. Van Cleave

93. Up From The Sea by Leza Lowitz

94. The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolfe

95. The Weight of the Sky by Lisa Ann Sandell

96. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

97. Who Killed Mr. Chippendale? A Mystery in Poems by Mel Glenn

98. Who Will Tell My Brother? by Marlene Carvell

99. You Remind Me of You: a Poetry Memoir by Eireann Corrigan

100. Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill*