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7 Moving MG/YA Poetry Picks

This collection is perfect for more sophisticated young readers who love to dive deeply into beautiful, touching, sometimes painful, sometimes joyful stories. Wordsong, an imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers, has poetry books for kids at every age & every stage!

Catching a Storyfish

This lyrical middle-grade novel-in-verse celebrates the power of story and of finding one’s individual voice.

★ “Keet’s is a simple and familiar-feeling story, but one that is understated, fully realized, deftly written, and utterly absorbing.”— School Library Journal, starred review

★ “A gentle-spirited book about a black girl who almost gives up her gift but for love and friendship.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
Winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People
Arnold Adoff Poetry Honor Award
A Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices Selection

Garvey’s Choice: The Graphic Novel

Award-winning author Nikki Grimes’s beloved novel in verse, Garvey’s Choice, is now a graphic novel, imaginatively and dramatically illustrated by Little Shaq artist Theodore Taylor III.

★ “Some of Grimes’s original tanka poems have been adjusted, but the novel in verse adapts beautifully to the graphic novel format, and Taylor’s art emphasizes the imaginative, ­poignant, painful, and joyful aspects in turn. Starry night sky illustrations, with characters outlined in white, are striking. Taylor often shows Garvey regarding himself in a mirror, and readers can see how Garvey’s feelings about his appearance change throughout. This format will attract new readers to a poetic, powerful story of growth. Highly recommended.” —School Library Journal, starred review

★ “The verses are given a new visual life with excellent page designs and clever illustrations…An unusually effective use of the graphic novel format to bring poetry alive. —The Horn Book, starred review

The original edition of Garvey’s Choice was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.

Voices from the March on Washington

The powerful poems in this poignant collection weave together multiple voices to tell the story of the March on Washington, DC, in 1963.

★“Through over 70 largely first-person poems, the poets rekindle the spirit of the fight for racial equality in the United States with imagined voices of young and old, black and white, educated and underprivileged, supporters and detractors and drive home the volume’s theme of taking personal responsibility in helping this country ‘steer toward justice together.’ . . .” — Kirkus Reviews

Words with Wings

In this Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, Children’s Literature Legacy Award-winner Nikki Grimes explores though her celebrated poetry how a supportive teacher can be the key to unlocking a dreamer’s imaginative power through creative writing.

★ “. . . Grimes has written a novel in verse that is an enthusiastic celebration of the power of words and imagination. . . Always accessible, Grimes’ language is vivid, rhythmic, and figurative. . . Grimes’ words speak to the daydreamer in every reader.” — Bookliststarred review

★ “In this delightfully spare narrative in verse, Coretta Scott King Award-winning Grimes examines a marriage’s end from the perspective of a child. . . Throughout this finely wrought narrative, Grimes’ free verse is tight, with perfect breaks of line and effortless shifts from reality to dream states and back. An inspirational exploration of caring among parent, teacher and child–one of Grimes’ best.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Coretta Scott King Author Honor book
NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the English Language Arts
Kirkus Reviews Best Book

Garvey in the Dark

Capturing the shock and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through the eyes of Garvey, a beloved character, Nikki Grimes’s newest novel in verse shows readers how to find hope in difficult times.

Garvey in the Dark is more than a beautifully crafted novel in verse. It’s a story that faces news headlines and captures the wild emotional roller coaster of the COVID-19 pandemic with honesty and courage. A must-read for young people who lived through the early days of the outbreak as well as those who will be curious about it in years to come.” —Kate Messner, New York Times bestselling author

Winner, 2023 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award

Becoming Billie Holiday

The stunning voice and hard life of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday is revealed through evocative, accessible poetry.

★ “The poetry is rich and evocative. . . . A remarkable tribute well worthy of its subject.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award

Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir

In her own voice, acclaimed author and poet Nikki Grimes explores the truth of a harrowing childhood in a compelling and moving memoir in verse.

 “Ordinary Hazards is a gorgeous piece of writing that also serves as powerful inspiration for any reader who has struggled and sought grace. Grimes’s triumph over adversity is matched only by her skill with the written word–her memoir is accessible to poetry enthusiasts and detractors alike, and will linger long after the final lines.”—Shelf Awareness, starred review

Michael L. Printz Honor Book
Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book
Boston Globe/Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book
Arnold Adoff Poetry Award for Teens

Six Starred Reviews—★Booklist ★BCCB ★The Horn Book ★Publishers Weekly ★School Library Connection ★Shelf Awareness