Australian Verse Novels for Younger Readers
The National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature website is a treasure trove of resources for readers, parents, librarians and teachers. They have recently created a section that details Australian Verse Novels for Younger Readers, a comprehensive resource offering information about a range of verse novels. There is also a section covering verse novels for young adult readers.
This resource is invaluable. Verse novels, novels written in either extended free verse or in shorter poems, have a long history in Australia, but it remains a genre that can still be undervalued or misunderstood. I teach secondary English and students can sometimes be discouraged from picking up a verse novel because of the perceived complexity of “poetry”. Although verse novels can be deeply complex, the language used is often truly accessible and engaging to young readers, especially those who might be intimidated by a traditional novel. It is imperative that teachers, librarians and parents can easily recommend, teach and read these wonderful stories.
The NCACL have created a database that is accessible, easy to read and instinctive to use. Each novel is given a clear and engaging summary, as well as a reference to the intended audience and important themes covered. This, alongside the list of Australian Curriculum links, means that it would be straightforward for a teacher to use this resource to find not only a book to recommend to a student, but also a book to use for a literature circle or a whole class novel.
The additional resources listed include teacher notes, readings of chapters, interviews with authors, reviews, as well as articles on any important background information needed for studying the text. These serve to examine the relevance of the text for teachers and librarians, but also as possible ways to engage learners before and while studying.
Reviewed by Madeleine Crofts
Australian Verse Novels for Young Adults
Launched in November 2021, the Australian Verse Novels Resource created by the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature (NCACL) is a momentous achievement in the world of children’s literature. In a time where younger readers need stories more than ever, there is something incredibly alluring about the verse novel; a space for readers to explore deep emotions, relate to the life experiences of characters, or enjoy the music of the poetic language used by authors.
Verse novels can impart wisdom and pose questions for readers without being didactic. This tool is a wonderful resource for teachers, those that work with young people, and young people themselves — if there’s a theme you’re wanting to teach on, talk to a young person about, or love to read, there’s a verse novel to match.
The database itself is user-friendly and includes photos of each novel’s cover alongside detailed annotations. There are articles, teacher’s notes and curriculum information, interviews, author biographies, essays, and teaching notes for readers to explore. Perhaps the most useful part of the database is the theme explorations — a wonderful way to decide which novel to choose, for which audience/occasion. Each annotation is thoughtfully and diligently crafted; a testament to those involved in the project.
The Young Adult Verse Novel Database includes both modern and classic entries — with over thirty-eight entries, there’s something for every reader. Standout entries are those for Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Ruby Moonlight, The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot, and Bindi by Kirli Saunders. Reader beware, your own TBR pile might swell to unmanageable proportions after viewing this list!
The resource, and the children’s list, is located in the ‘Bibliographies’ section of the NCACL website and can be found here. Overall an incredible feat for the NCACL team, and my most heartfelt congratulations to them for their hard work on this project.
Reviewed by Sarah Stivens