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National Poetry Month Week 2 with Lisa Krok

National Poetry Month continues throughout April with week two of novels in verse!  I have been posting a verse novel on Twitter @readonthebeach each day, along with a corresponding poetry activity. Click here for my previous post about using my book, Novels in Verse for Teens to reach marginalized and reluctant/striving readers, and here for the round-up from week one. On to week two!

Day 8: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir in verse has family at its heart. Summers in the South with her grandparents bring crickets, frogs, and owls singing a lullaby, while time with her mother in Brooklyn involves double dutch, music without the word “funk” in it, and the Kingdom Hall. She genuinely loves both places and wishes for a way to have one AND the other. As she begins her journey becoming a writer, she realizes that “YOU decide what each world and each story and each ending will finally be”.

Ode to family poetry activity:

Woodson has said this book is an “ode to family”. Learn how to write your own ode: https://powerpoetry.org/resources/writing-ode-poem

Day 9: Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt


Kate’s mom is pushing for her to be captain of the cheerleading squad, but Kate prefers being the mascot. When she befriends Tam, she begins questioning her sexuality. When Kate’s mom shuts down her revelation, she seeks validation from her sister, who happens to be estranged from her mother.

Sorry, Not Sorry poetry activity:

Kate is attracted to girls, and she is not sorry about it. Sorry, Not Sorry poetry stemmed from “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams. Try writing your own!


Day 10: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo


Xiomara Batista is growing up in Harlem with her strict Dominican Catholic family. She often feels she has no voice in choosing what her life will be. The decisions in her life have been pre-determined by her mother and the church. Xiomara has a passion for words, and finds an outlet in her school’s slam poetry club. Her twin brother and her leather notebook hold all of her secrets, including a new love interest at school. When Mami finds the notebook, she tries to silence Xio’s dreams, but Xiomara has more to say.

Slam poetry:

Xiomara has a passion for words, finding an outlet in her school’s slam poetry club. Discover how to create slam poetry:

https://powerpoetry.org/actions/5-tips-spoken-word and see Elizabeth Acevedo perform



Day 11:  Some Girls Bind by Rory James


Jamie has been keeping a secret…she binds her chest each day to feel more like herself. She is questioning why she does this, and feels she isn’t like other girls. She is afraid to tell her friends that she is genderqueer, but finds some solace in her brother’s support.

Advocacy poetry activity:

All teens deserve to live their authentic lives. Support trans rights by writing advocacy poetry:


Day 12: A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman


Aspiring Indian teen dancer, Veda, thinks she will never dance again after a terrible accident leaves her an amputee from the knee down. Her grandmother, Paati, encourages her to be independent and extends her pants and skirts for her while she is on crutches waiting for a prosthetic. Working with her physical therapist, Jim, Veda sees posters of dancers with prosthetics. When Jim tells her “One day, kiddo, I‘ll add your poster to my collection”, she pursues Bharatanatyam dance with a newfound resilience.

Hopeful Haiku activity:

When Veda loses her leg in an accident, her hope is restored by the inspiration of the words and actions surrounding her. Write a haiku using the themes of hope and resilience.


Day 13: Crank (Trilogy) by Ellen Hopkins


Although this book is not about a beast or a dragon, it involves a monster. The destructive, life changing monster that is crystal meth snatches Kristina and she transforms into her brash alter-ego, Bree. Based upon the author’s own daughter’s addiction to crystal meth, this realistically portrays the hold meth has on an addict.

Cinquain poetry activity:

Drug abuse within families can bring up strong emotions. Write a cinquain about something you feel strongly about. Cinquains are similar to other Japanese poetic forms like haiku and tanka.


Day 14:  Amiri & Odette: A Love Story

by Walter Dean Myers, paintings by Javaka Steptoe


With gorgeous mixed media artwork of Javaka Steptoe and his signature lyrical voice, Walter Dean Myers creates a modern retelling of the ballet Swan Lake surrounded by poverty, basketball, and gang violence.

Music inspired sonnet activity:

Listen to both versions of Swan Lake, traditional

  and urban mix  (explicit)

Play both versions for teens, having them write down words and phrases that come to mind from each one. Next, they select one of the versions to use as inspiration for a sonnet. A sonnet can be a perfect style of. poetry for expressing strong emotions. Choose some of the words and phrases written down to inspire a sonnet: https://powerpoetry.org/resources/write-sonnet-poetry .

-Lisa Krok

Find all of these activities and much more in Novels in Verse for Teens, available now.

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Lisa Krok, MLIS, MEd, is the adult and teen services manager at Morley Library and a former teacher in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. She is the author of Novels in Verse for Teens: A Guidebook with Activities for Teachers and Librarians, available now from ABC-CLIO. Lisa’s passion is reaching marginalized teens and reluctant readers through young adult literature. She was appointed to the 2019-2020 YALSA Presidential Advisory Task Force, served two years on the Quick Picks for Reluctant Reader’s team, and is serving on the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA 2021) committee. Lisa can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach. Facebook TwitterShare


  1. Great information and I love your collection. Poetry is a vagrant of quiet. The words are never fully equivalent to the experience behind them. I loved to say thank you so much for sharing your page.

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