T. S. Eliot famously opened his classic poem “The Waste Land” by proclaiming April “the cruelest month,” and students everywhere might agree when April rolls around and teachers pull out their well-worn poetry unit. April is National Poetry Month, which for poetry lovers means the spotlight shines on their favorites, old and new. We encourage the celebration of poetry year round, but in honor of the 25th anniversary of this special designation, here are 25 new titles, ideas, and resources to mark the occasion.
1. Though she needs no real introduction, we would be remiss if we didn’t start our list with NY Times #1 bestseller Amanda Gorman and her forthcoming collection, which includes her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
2. Invite your teens to participate in the Dear Poet project, where young people get to engage directly with award-winning poets, such as Janice Lobo Sapigao:
Each quarter, the Selected Lists teams compile the titles that have been officially nominated to date. These books have been suggested by the team or through the title suggestion form, read by multiple members of the team, and received approval to be designated an official nomination. At the end of the year, the final list of nominations and each Selected List’s Top Ten will be chosen from these titles.
Becoming Muhammad Ali. By James Patterson and Kwame Alexander.Art by Dawud Anyabwile. 2020. Little, Brown/JIMMY Patterson. $16.99 (9780316498166).
James Patterson and Kwame Alexander tackle the life of Cassius Clay before he became Muhammad Ali in this novel that mixes prose and verse.
Chlorine Sky. By Mahogany L. Browne. Penguin Random House/Crown. $17.99 (9780593176399).
In this novel in verse, Mahogany Browne explores what it’s like to lose a best friend but find yourself.
The Truth Project by Dante Medema Quill Tree Books / Harper Collins Publication Date: October 30, 2020 ISBN: 978-0062954404
High school senior Cordelia has her senior writing project all planned: she’ll take a DNA test just like her sister did, and write about identity and her family history. She also manages to get paired with her childhood crush, Kodiak, on the project. But when her genealogy results come in, Cordelia learns her father is not who she thought — which sends her spiraling as her plan for her senior year completely changes.
This free verse novel has a lot of white space on the page and reads quickly. Poems are short and spaced out. Additional storytelling comes in the form of text messages and emails, adding some variety while keeping things fast-paced. The writing is clear, and the plot is straightforward. The search for identity is a familiar theme with strong emotional appeal to teens, and many teens will relate to Delia’s sense of being out-of-place even among the people who know her best.
Every Single Lie by Rachel Vincent Bloomsbury Publication Date: January 12, 2021 ISBN: 978-1-5476-0523-1
Sixteen-year-old Beckett Bergen’s life completely changes the moment she discovers a dead baby in a duffel bag stashed in the girl’s locker room at school. After an anonymous Twitter account reveals that Beckett made the discovery, she is targeted with violent threats and rumors that she’s the #BabyKiller. Hunting for the truth only uncovers more secrets but none so shattering as discovering what really happened.