It’s Lit! Poetry for Teens

It's Lit! Poetry for Teens

It’s Lit! – Poetry for Teens

April is National Poetry Month, so what better time to get into poetry? Alachua County Library District has some great books of poetry and novels in verse written by exciting new authors. We have collections of poems written by teens like you, DVDs that celebrate the slam poetry scene, and links to sites that will help you get inspired to add your own voice to the mix!


Great poetry books for teens and tweens

Home is not a CountryHome is not a country Safia Elhillo’s novel in verse follows the experiences of a misfit teen in a discriminatory suburban community who questions her mixed heritage before unexpected family revelations force her to fight for her own identity. Also check out Elhillo’s award-winning poetry collection, The January children.




The Poet XThe Poet X When Xiomara Batista, who pours all her frustrations and passion into poetry, is invited to join the school slam poetry club, she struggles with her mother's expectations and her need to be heard. This novel, written in verse, won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Printz Award and the Pura Belpré Award. If you like The Poet X, check out Elizabeth Acevedo’s other novels in verse, With the fire on high and Clap when you land.



Please Excuse this Poem Please excuse this poem: 100 new poets for the next generation Here is a cross-section of American poetry as it is right now—full of grit and love, sparkling with humor, searing the heart, smashing through boundaries on every page. Please Excuse This Poem features one hundred acclaimed younger poets from truly diverse backgrounds and points of view, whose work has appeared everywhere from The New Yorker to Twitter, tackling a startling range of subjects in a startling range of poetic forms. Dealing with the aftermath of war; unpacking the meaning of “the rape joke”; sharing the tender moments at the start of a love affair: these poems tell the world as they see it.


Long way downLong way down As Will, fifteen, sets out to avenge his brother Shawn's fatal shooting, seven ghosts who knew Shawn board the elevator and reveal truths Will needs to know. Author Jason Reynolds is one of the most exciting voices in literature for young people. Check out any of his books; you can't go wrong!




Poetry Speaks Who I AmPoetry speaks who I am This anthology collects more than one hundred poems for young readers, with selections by Maya Angelou, Arthur Sze, Langston Hughes, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, William Butler Yeats, and others; and includes an audio CD with some of the poets reading their works.




Hip Hop Speaks to the ChildrenHip Hop Speaks to children: A celebration of poetry with a beat Don’t let the title fool you; this collection of poetry, rhythmic prose, and hip hop lyrics is for all ages. With selections from poets and rappers as diverse as Langston Hughes and Kanye West, you’re sure to find a lot to dig in to.



Check out our catalog for more poetry books for teens and tweens!

Poetry written by teens like you

Paint me like I am: Teen poemsPaint me like I am: Teen poems This collection of poems is by teens who have taken part in writing programs run by a national nonprofit organization called WritersCorps. To read the words of these young people is to hear the diverse voices of teenagers everywhere.




Get lit risingGet Lit Rising: Words Ignite. Claim your poem. Claim your life. This uplifting book also offers the classic poems that have most inspired the Get Lit Players, along with their own personal response poems, and each chapter offers questions, writing prompts, and how-tos for readers to set their own inner poet free.




Falling hard: 100 love poems by teenagersFalling hard: 100 love poems by teenagers The teen poets in this lively anthology knock greeting-card clichés even as they celebrate their romance and their passion...From the pain of breakup and denial to affection and desire, the feelings in these poems will ring true to gay and straight teens alike.




Dream catchers: POPs the Club anthologyDream catchers: POPS the Club anthology In a collection of more than 150 original pieces created by members of POPS (Pain of the Prison System) the Club around the country, high-school students express their sorrow, confusion, anger, bewilderment, hopes, and dreams through poetry, essays, haiku, rap lyrics, drawings, paintings, photos, and collages. They tell stories that reflect different circumstances and experiences, but all reflect the pain of having an incarcerated parent, sibling, or loved one.





Don't be niceDon’t Be Nice The upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team, made up of five young African-American, Afro-Hispanic and queer poets, prepares for the national championships. Will their soul-searching pieces about police violence and the whitewashing of Black culture be able to compete against choreographed crowd-pleasers for the title?




Louder than a bombLouder than a Bomb This documentary follows the fortunes of four Chicago-area high school poetry teams as they prepare for and compete in the world's largest youth slam, Louder Than a Bomb.





Out of wonder: Poems celebrating poetsOut of Wonder: Poems celebrating poets Newbery Award-winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth offer a glorious, lyrical ode to poets who have sparked a sense of wonder.





Check out our catalog for more poetry DVDs!


Every spring, Alachua County Library District holds the Teen Creative Writing Contest. Teens can submit a short story or up to three poems for consideration. The deadline to submit is Friday, April 16th at 5 p.m.

Girl readingThe sections for teens at and Poetry Foundation are both great places to start if you’re looking to explore the art of poetry. You can find poem selections curated for teens, reading lists, tips, and interviews.

Teen Ink is an online and print magazine devoted entirely to writing, art, and photography by and for teens. You can even submit your own work!

Ready to start writing? Last year, Poets House hosted the 10*10*10 series of video workshops. Over a series of ten episodes that are roughly ten minutes long, Dave Johnson gives you the tools to write a poem in ten minutes. While the workshop series has concluded, you can still watch the videos and follow along at your own pace.

Have you already written a poem you like? Why not submit it to a competition? The Poetry Society holds the annual Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. Though the Poetry Society is based in the U.K., poets aged 11 to 17 from anywhere in the world can enter!

Did you know that you have free access to the New York Times with your library card? Just go to and log in with you library card number. Then, immediately go check out “Young Black poets: Ten teenage writers show the future of poetry,” a multimedia article where you can watch these talented poets perform their work and read about what poetry means to them. You can also read essays about the link between poetry and hip hop and poets choosing the hip hop songs that inspired them.