Poetry Novels for Middle-Grade Readers

When thinking of books of poetry, most people think of Shel Silverstein, Clement Clarke Moore's The Night Before Christmas, or nursery rhymes. But there's a wealth of other options. Here are some novel length books written in free verse, which is non-rhyming and does not have a regular meter or flow.

This is just a sampling, with more novels in verse available through our catalog.

The crossover by Kwame Alexander

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

Inside out & back again by Thanhha Lai

Things Could Be Worse


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (anorexia)— Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend's death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder.

Thirteen reasons why: a novel by Jay Asher (suicide) — When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown (school shooting) — Sixteen-year-old Valerie, whose boyfriend Nick committed a school shooting at the end of their junior year, struggles to cope with integrating herself back into high school life, unsure herself whether she was a hero or a villain.

Games and Toys

Curiosity by Gary Blackwood — In 1835, when his father is put in a Philadelphia debtor's prison, twelve-year-old chess prodigy Rufus Goodspeed is relieved to be recruited to secretly operate a chess-playing automaton named The Turk, but soon questions the fate of his predecessors and his own safety.

Doll bones by Holly Black ; with illustrations by Eliza Wheeler — Zach, Alice, and Poppy, friends from a Pennsylvania middle school who have long enjoyed acting out imaginary adventures with dolls and action figures, embark on a real-life quest to Ohio to bury a doll made from the ashes of a dead girl.

History of Toys and Games


Birth of the chess queen: a history by Marilyn Yalom — Everyone knows that the queen is the most powerful piece in chess, but few people know that the game existed for five hundred years without her. Not until the year 1000, two hundred years after Arab conquerors brought chess to southern Europe, did a chess queen appear on the board.Initially she was the weakest piece, not the formidable force she is today. How and why did this transformation take place? Examine the five-hundred-year period between the chess queens timid emergence and her elevation into the games mightiest piece.

Circus and Magic Acts for Kids

The show must go on! by Kate Klise ; illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
Two mice and a crow, who travel with a circus, cleaning up the spilled popcorn after every performance, come to the rescue when a greedy con artist takes over the management of the circus. Book #1 in The Three-Ring Rascals series

Escape!: the story of the great Houdini by Sid Fleischman
A biography of the magician, ghost chaser, aviator, and king of escape artists whose amazing feats are remembered long after his death in 1926.

Circus and Magic Acts for Adults

The night circus: a novel by Erin Morgenstern — A circus, known as Le Cirque des Rêves features two illusionists, Celia and Marco, who are unknowingly competing in a game to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters, and as the two fall deeply and passionately in love with each other, their masters intervene with dangerous consequences

Last chain on Billie: how one extraordinary elephant escaped the big top by Carol Bradley — Against the backdrop of a glittering but brutal circus world, Carol Bradley's Last Chain on Billie charts the history of elephants in America, the inspiring story of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and the spellbinding tale of a resilient elephant who defied the system even as she struggled to conquer her past, who never lost sight of the life she was meant to have.

Flavorful Nonfiction for Kids

Sugar changed the world: a story of magic, spice, slavery, freedom, and science by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos — Songs, oral histories, maps, and more than eighty archival illustrations help trace the history of sugar and the sugar trade.

The story of Coca-Cola by Lonnie Bell — Discusses the founding and development of Coca-Cola, which calls itself "the world's soft drink."

The seed vault by Bonnie Juettner — The seed vault in Norway houses plant seeds from around the world to be stored in the event that the plant needs to be re-introduced into the food supply.

Flavorful Fiction for Kids

Chapter Books

Pickle: the (formerly) anonymous prank club of Fountain Point Middle School by Kim Baker ; illustrated by Tim Probert — Using a bogus name, the League of Picklemakers, sixth-grader Ben and three recruits start a prank-pulling club and receive funding from their middle school's PTA.

Salt: a story of friendship in a time of war by Helen Frost — Twelve-year-olds Anikwa, of the Miami village of Kekionga, and James, of the trading post outside Fort Wayne, find their friendship threatened by the rising fear and tension brought by the War of 1812.

Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes — In 1870, Reconstruction brings big changes to the Louisiana sugar plantation where spunky ten-year-old Sugar has always lived, including her friendship with Billy, the son of her former master, and the arrival of workmen from China.

Middle School Mysteries

These great middle school mysteries are available as audiobooks or printed copies. Listen to them for the Sleuth It: eLectrified badge, or read them for the Sleuth It: Super Bookworm Badge.

Hold fast [sound recording] by Blue Balliett —  On a cold winter day in Chicago, Early's father disappeared and now she, her mother and her brother have been forced to flee their apartment and join the ranks of the homeless and it is up to Early to hold her family together and solve the mystery surrounding her father

Imagination and Innovation in Picture Books

It's only Stanley by Jon Agee —  Very strange noises that keep awakening the Wimbledon family one night have an even stranger source.

Rosie Revere, engineer by Andrea Beaty ; illustrated by David Roberts —  A young aspiring engineer must first conquer her fear of failure.

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