YA Friday: National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month

And what a better way to celebrate than checking out a bunch of new YA poetry books.

But if poetry isn't your thing, novels written in verse are a captivating way the get to the emotion or heart of a story. They use poetic structures to share stories about issues teenagers care most about, such as finding love, heartbreak, fitting in, and figuring out who you are. They make reading about topics like history, love, music, and trauma accessible and resonate with the reader long after they finish the book.

Books that are written in verse often convey a lot of emotion and depth of character because every word matters. Plus, they tend to be super quick reads! So even if you aren't a poetry lover, there's a little bit on this list for everyone! 

Apple: Skin to the Core, book cover

Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth

The term "Apple" is a slur in Native communities across the country. It's for someone supposedly "red on the outside, white on the inside."

Eric Gansworth is telling his story in Apple (Skin to the Core). The story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere.

From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds. Eric shatters that slur and reclaims it in verse and prose and imagery that truly lives up to the word heartbreaking.

The Black Flamingo, book cover

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born.

Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are—and allow us to shine.

Home Is Not A Country, book cover

Home Is Not A Country by Safia Elhillo

Nima doesn't feel understood. By her mother, who grew up far away in a different land. Her suburban town makes her feel too much like an outsider to fit in and not enough like an outsider to feel like that she belongs somewhere else. At least she has her childhood friend Haitham, with whom she can let her guard down and be herself. Until she doesn't.

As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen, the name her parents didn't give her at birth: Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might just be more real than Nima knows. And more hungry. And the life Nima has, the one she keeps wishing were someone else's. . . she might have to fight for it with a fierceness she never knew she had.

Muted, book cover

Muted by Tami Charles

For seventeen-year-old Denver, music is everything. Writing, performing, and her ultimate goal: escaping her very small, very white hometown.

So Denver is more than ready on the day she and her best friends Dali and Shak sing their way into the orbit of the biggest R&B star in the world, Sean "Mercury" Ellis. Merc gives them everything: parties, perks, wild nights -- plus hours and hours in the recording studio. Even the painful sacrifices and the lies the girls have to tell are all worth it.

Until they're not.

Denver begins to realize that she's trapped in Merc's world, struggling to hold on to her own voice. As the dream turns into a nightmare, she must choose: lose her big break or get broken.

Every Body Looking, book cover

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

Every Body Looking is a heavily autobiographical novel of a young woman's struggle to carve a place for herself--for her black female body--in a world of deeply conflicting messages.

Told entirely in verse, Ada's story encompasses her earliest memories as a child, including her abuse at the hands of a young cousin, her mother's rejection and descent into addiction, and her father's attempts to create a home for his American daughter more like the one he knew in Nigeria.

Further Reading

Blood Moon, book cover
The Truth Project, book cover
Chlorine Sky, book cover
Thirty Talks Weird Love, book cover
Punching the Air, book cover
Clap When You Land, book cover
Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir, book cover
Junk Boy, book cover
I Am Here Now, book cover
If I Tell You the Truth, book cover
Say Her Name, book cover
Somebody Give This Heart A Pen, book cover