- “The Way to Bea” by Kat Yeh features both poetry AND letter writing. In it, seventh-grader Bea uses poetry to express her emotions about growing apart from her best friends and feeling ignored at home as her parents focus on their jobs and a new baby. Although Bea writes her poems in invisible ink and hides them in a secret spot, to her surprise, someone writes her back! Now she’s determined to find the identity of her secret pen pal. Do some of her old friends miss her, too? Is it the kind librarian at school? Or the boy Bea has a crush on? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
- If you’re ready to pick up a pen and try your own hand at poetry, or if you’re an experienced poet looking for some new tricks to try, check out “Catch Your Breath: Writing Poignant Poetry” by Laura Purdie Salas. The book includes instructions on writing different types of poetry (haiku, free verse, and more), bios of famous poets for inspiration, and lots of writing prompts to get you started!
- When 11-year-old Reenie has to live with her grandmother after her mom dies, her new paper route helps her adjust to life in a new town. It also brings her to the home of Mr. Marsworth, the town recluse. Determined to reach him when he doesn’t answer his door, she starts leaving him letters — and he writes back! In “Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth” by Sheila O’Connor, the entire novel is told in the letters between Reenie and Mr. Marsworth — complete with different handwriting for the two writers — as they try to concoct a plan to keep Reenie’s brother out of the Vietnam War.
- In “Hope in the Holler” by Lisa Lewis Tyre, Wavie also finds herself adjusting to a new life after her mom dies of cancer. But she soon learns that her aunt Samantha Rose took her in to get an extra Social Security check in the mail, not because she cared about her. Seeking a way to escape her situation, Wavie finds out that she was almost adopted by another family as a child. Is it possible that family might still want her? And will a hopeful letter to the family that could-have-been be enough to change everything?
- Have you ever written a letter or a diary to someone who you know will never receive it? In “The Night Diary” by Veera Hiranandani, 12-year-old Nisha writes to her Muslim mother, who she lost when she was just a baby, about the way her life and her country is falling apart. It’s 1947 in India, which has recently been freed from British rule and is now facing Partition, or division into two different countries — one for Muslims, and one for Hindus. When Nisha’s father, who is Hindu, finds himself in the part of the country that is now Pakistan and under Muslim rule, the two of them become refugees fleeing to a new home. Through her letters, Nisha searches for a way to put herself back together even though her country has been ripped apart.
What about you? Have you read any of the books listed above? Do you have favorite books featuring poetry or letters? Tell me about them in the comments below!