Friday, July 11, 2008

A novel-in-verse is still, you know, a NOVEL

Tip of the Day: Keep a little notebook in your purse (you males reading this DO carry a purse, don't you?), and any time you hear a funny piece of conversation, at the coffee shop or wherever, write it down. You never know when it might come in handy in a book.

So, Deena (Miss Recently Repped) and I were talking about novels-in-verse and how they can be good for reluctant readers, but sometimes there is a problem with getting them to read them in the first place.

As a librarian, Deena gets moms who come in, asking her to help select books for the teen girl who doesn’t like to read much, and as soon as Deena says the word “verse,” she’s often told , “Oh no, she wouldn’t like that.” They don’t get the fact that it’s not merely a book of poems, it’s a story with a beginning, middle and end, with a plot and characters - you know - a NOVEL.

I think Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones have helped to open up the genre so more kids understand what a novel-in-verse is, and that it’s not just a book of unrelated poems. But there are still people out there who think – yuck! I have read some reviews on I HEART YOU that say something like, “I bought this book, and when I saw it was written in poems, I was really worried, but I ended up loving it.”

So how can we describe a novel-in-verse so people don’t close their ears as soon as the word "verse" comes out of our mouth?

Here are my ideas, but I’d love to hear yours:

1) Don’t even say it’s a novel-in-verse. Just say it’s a fast-moving story with really short chapters and relatable characters that will keep them turning the pages.

2) You could say, “This is a verse novel, but don’t let the verse part scare you. Every poem is very accessible and easy to understand, and kids who don't like to read usually like all of the white space on the pages. It doesn't overwhelm them as much as a regular book."

3) Or how about, "This is a great book that other kids LOVE. It's different. I think that's why they love it."

What do you think?

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed


Ellen Hopkins said...

It really bugs me when I see someone pick up one of my books, notice it's verse, then put it back down without even reading a page or two. I think the best thing to say would be something like, "This book is often recommended by readers who used to be non-readers." Or something similar.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Ellen! Thanks for stopping by!

And I love your answer. :)

Emily Marshall said...

I like the idea of saying its a fast-paced novel and not even mentioning the fact it's in verse. I think many teens are scared off by saying it's poems.

DeenaML said...

Ellen, great idea! I'll have to use that line. Definitely the "Many teens love this book, so give it a try." Esp at the library I try to sneak in the "And it's free, so if you don't like it, just return it!" That works sometimes....

Lisa, great idea about describing the verses as "short chapters." I'm gonna try that.

Em, "fast-paced novel" is also a great line.

I will try all of these and let you know of the results... :)