I have a group of kids in my class this year who LOVE novels in verse. They love Heartbeat by Sharon Creech, Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli and Becoming Joe DiMaggio by Maria Testa. As a teacher, I am finding that these are great books for readers of this age (and beyond). These novels tend to have a lot of depth. Some of my students who have difficulty sticking with books until the end, have the stamina to finish a novel in verse. I am not sure if they like the fact that they feel like they are turning pages quickly or that each page is shorter than a typical novel. But, they are reading some great books in this genre and they are really changing the ways they think about what they read because of it.
So, I am currently on the lookout for books like this to add to my collection. Sometimes the books are a bit too sophisticated for 3rd and 4t graders.
This week, I read 42 MILES by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. (She is an Ohio author which adds to the fun of finding a new book that I love!). The book is about JoEllen. JoEllen splits her time between her mother's home in the city and her father's home in the country. The book is told in first person so we get into the thinking of JoEllen and how she feels about having these two quite separate lives. The book (and JoEllen) deal with issues common to so many kids--divorce, friendship, bullies, rules, teachers and more). Many of the poems in the book can stand alone as powerful poetry. Many can be used as mentors for student writing. But the way the poems work together gives us a story about a girl and family that is a good one. Illustrations, photos, maps, etc. add to each page so there are visuals throughout. This book packs a lot in with just 73 pages.
I am excited to add this book to my collection. I am sure it will make its rounds in my classroom this week.
My favorite line in the book (in case you were wondering):
"My favorite poems
squeeze your hand
on a crowded street and say: