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Poetry Books for Teens and Young Adults

A selection of titles for those who are dabbling, seeking inspiration or needing solace through poetry.


Cover of Ain’t Burned All the Bri
Jason Griffin

A smash up of art and text that viscerally captures what it means to not be able to breathe, and how the people and things you love most are actually the oxygen you most need. 

Cover of Apple: (Skin to the Core)

Eric Gansworth tells his story, 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.

Cover of The Breakbeat Poets: New A
Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana and
Nate Marshall (editors)

This is for people who love Hip-Hop, for fans of the culture, for people who've never read a poem, for people who thought poems were only something done by dead white dudes who got lost in a forest, and for poetry heads. This anthology is meant to expand the idea of who a poet is and what a poem is for.

Cover of Inheritance: A Visual Poem
Andrea Pippins

In her most famous spoken-word poem, Elizabeth Acevedo embraces all the complexities of Black hair and Afro-Latinidad--the history, pain, pride, and powerful love of that inheritance.

Cover of Poemhood: Our Black Reviva
Amber McBride, Erica Martin, and
Taylor Byas

Featuring contributions from an award-winning, bestselling group of Black voices, past and present, this poetry anthology elicits conversations about race, belonging, history, and faith to highlight Black joy and pain.

Cover of Restrict: A Poetic Narrati

A powerful work of poetic narrative fiction, Restrict is the raw yet resonant story of a teenage girl's coming of age in a world that cares more about her weight than her mental health.

Cover of These Are the Words

Taking you on a journey through the seasons of the soul, in this collection Nikita gives you the words to help heal from your first breakup, to celebrate finding your family, to understand first love, to express your anger and your joy, to fight for what you believe in and to help you break some rules to be your truest self. Gorgeously illustrated throughout by Nikita herself and featuring seasonal astrological poetry, this collection is an achingly beautiful, stunningly warm and fearless expression of truth.

Cover of Wearing My Mother's Heart

In her heartfelt second poetry collection, Sophia Thakur takes us on an emotionally charged journey through the lives of women in the past and considers what it means to be a woman today. Exploring topics such as identity, race, politics, mental health, and self-love, she weaves together the voices of a grandmother, mother, and daughter and examines how previous generations have given us the freedom to speak out.

Cover of You Don’t Have to Be Eve

A contemporary poetry anthology that offers girls and young women wisdom and compassion for a vital, formative time in their lives.


Poet Memoirs and Biographies

Cover of Abuela, Don't Forget Me

Rex Ogle's companion to Free Lunch and Punching Bag weaves humor, heartbreak, and hope into life-affirming poems that honor his grandmother's legacy.

Cover of Black Girl You Are Atlas
Ekua Holmes

In this semi-autobiographical collection of poems, Renée Watson writes about her experience growing up as a young Black girl at the intersections of race, class, and gender. Using a variety of poetic forms, from haiku to free verse, Watson shares recollections of her childhood in Portland, tender odes to the Black women in her life, and urgent calls for Black girls to step into their power.

Cover of Bless the Blood: A Cancer

When Walela is diagnosed at twenty-three with advanced stage blood cancer, they're suddenly thrust into the unsympathetic world of tubes and pills, doctors who don't use their correct pronouns, and hordes of "well-meaning" but patronizing people offering unsolicited advice as they navigate rocky personal relationships and share their story online. But this experience also deepens their relationship to their ancestors, providing added support from another realm. Walela's diagnosis becomes a catalyst for their self-realization. 

Cover of Crazy Brave: A Memoir

Narrating the complexities of betrayal and love, "Crazy Brave" is a memoir about family and the breaking apart necessary to find a voice. Harjo's tale of a hardscrabble youth, young adulthood, and transformation into an award-winning poet and musician is haunting and unique.

Cover of The Denim Diaries: A Memoi
Laurie Boyle

Laurie Boyle Crompton's coming of age in rural Pennsylvania and the New York City area in the 1970s and 1980s was anything but idyllic. In moving verse accompanied by diary-esque sketches, Crompton takes you along as she navigates relationships, plays the happy family at church despite discord at home, manages her mother's ambitions and her father's alcoholism, struggles with her self-image, and desperately tries to fit in at school by squeezing into too-tight designer denim.

Cover of Disappearing ACT: A True S

Jiordan's family was never quite like everyone else's, with her father's mood swings, her mother's attempts at normalcy, and her two older sisters with a different last name. But on the surface, they fit in.
Until the day the FBI came knocking on the door. After that, her father's mood plunged to a dangerous new low. After that, there was an investigation into his business and a sentencing in court. Soon Jiordan's father would have to leave home, and her family would change forever.

Cover of How the Boogeyman Became a
Keith Jr.

Poet, writer, and hip-hop educator Tony Keith Jr. makes his debut with a powerful YA memoir in verse, tracing his journey from being a closeted gay Black teen battling poverty, racism, and homophobia to becoming an openly gay first-generation college student who finds freedom in poetry. 

Cover of Nearer My Freedom: The Int
Monica Edinger and
Lesley Youngie

Millions of Africans were enslaved during the transatlantic slave trade, but few recorded their personal experiences. Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano is perhaps the most well known of the autobiographies that exist. Using this narrative as a primary source text, authors Monica Edinger and Lesley Younge share Equiano's life story in "found verse." Follow Equiano from his life in Africa as a child to his enslavement at a young age, his travels across the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, his liberation, and his life as a free man.

Cover of Ordinary Hazards

At the age of six, Nikki Grimes poured her pain onto a piece of paper late one night and discovered the magic and impact of writing. This memoir in verse will resonate with young readers and adults alike, Nikki shows how the power of those words helped her conquer the hazards-ordinary and extraordinary-of her life.

Cover of Quiet Fire: Emily Dickinso
Carol Dommermuth-Costa and
Anna Landsverk

When Emily Dickinson died at her home in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1886, she left a locked chest with hand-sewn notebooks and papers filled with nearly 1,800 unpublished poems. Four years later, her first collection was published and became a singular success. Today Dickinson is revered as one of America's greatest and most original poets. 

Cover of Shout: A Poetry Memoir
Laurie Halse

Inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel "Speak" was first published in 1999, Anderson presents a searing poetic memoir in which she shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she's never written about before.


Novels in Verse

Cover of Bright Red Fruit

An unflinching, honest novel in verse about a teenager's journey into the slam poetry scene and the dangerous new relationship that could threaten all her dreams. 

Cover of Enter The Body

In the room beneath a theater stage, the ghosts of Juliet, Ophelia, Cordelia, and other teenage girls who died tragically in Shakespeare's plays, share their experiences and trauma and get the chance to retell the stories of their lives in their own terms.

Cover of Hope Ablaze
Sarah Mughal

With a touch of magic and poetry sprinkled throughout, this novel is heartbreaking, often funny, and ultimately uplifting, not only celebrating the Islamic faith and Pakistani culture, but simultaneously confronting racism and Islamophobia with unflinching bravery.

Cover of The Ghosts of Rose Hill

Sent to stay with her aunt in Prague and witness the humble life of an artist, Ilana Lopez--a biracial Jewish girl--finds herself torn between her dream of becoming a violinist and her immigrant parents' desire for her to pursue a more stable career. When she discovers a forgotten Jewish cemetery behind her aunt's cottage, she meets the ghost of a kindhearted boy named Benjamin, who died over a century ago. As Ilana restores Benjamin's grave, he introduces her to the enchanted side of Prague, where ghosts walk the streets and their kisses have warmth.

Cover of An Impossible Thing to Say

In the aftermath of 9/11, high school sophomore Omid grapples with finding the right words to connect with his grandfather, embrace his Iranian heritage, and express his feelings towards a girl, until he immerses himself in the rhymes and rhythms of rap music and finds his voice.

Cover of Ode to My First Car

Claire Kemp, a closeted bisexual who might be in love with her best friend, gets a summer job at a local nursing home where an eighty-eight-year-old lesbian helps Claire grow more confident in her identity.

Cover of The Snow Fell Three Graves

Brilliantly narrated by multiple voices, including world-weary, taunting, and all-knowing Hunger itself, this novel-in-verse examines a notorious chapter in history from various perspectives. Unprecedented in its detail and sweep, this haunting epic raises stirring questions about moral ambiguity, hope and resilience, and hunger of all kinds.

Cover of A Time to Dance

Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance so when an accident shatters her dreams; she refuses to let her disability get in her way. Veda connects with the world around her and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.

Cover of We Are All So Good At Smil

When hospitalized for her clinical depression, Whimsy connects with a boy named Faerry, who also suffers from the traumatic loss of a sibling, and together they work to unearth buried memories and battle the fantastical physical embodiment of their depression.