Jacqueline Woodson, Author
Nancy Paulsen Books, Memoir, Aug. 28, 2014
Suitable for Ages: 10 and up
Themes: Jacqueline Woodson, Childhood, Family relationships, Living in the north and south, Finding one’s voice, From girl to author
Opening: “I am born on a Tuesday at University Hospital/Columbus, Ohio./USA– a country caught/ between Black and White.”
Synopsis: Jacqueline Woodson shares what it is like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both Brooklyn, NY and Greenville, SC. The south is home for Jacqueline and her brother and sister as they spend the summers with their grandparents. Children tease Jacqueline and her siblings about their northern accents. She struggles with the subtle prejudices in the South as her awareness of the civil rights movement grows. In Greenville there are loving grandparents, friends, and a lot of love. In Brooklyn she’s teased about being a Jehovah Witness and having to follow rules that her friends don’t understand. And living in the shadow of her sister’s academic performance in school presents another challenge. Jacqueline has difficulty with schoolwork. It is through her poetry and storytelling that a teacher tells her “You’re a writer.” Jacqueline’s voice begins to grow stronger with each word she pens because she wants to believe. Readers will find Jacqueline Woodson’s journey to become an author engaging and inspiring.
Every dandelion blown
each Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight.
My wish is always the same.
Every fallen eyelash
and first firefly of summer…
The dream remains.
What did you wish for?
To be a writer.”
What I like about this book: Brown Girl Dreaming is a deeply personal and authentic memoir for teens struggling with race, prejudice, absent fathers, and finding their place in the world. Jacqueline Woodson’s determined and uplifting voice is eloquent. Her use of free verse compliments the theme in her memoir. Her story is lyrical, emotional, and powerful. Each page is a clever, lively or soulful poem about a growing girl’s identity; her struggle with reading, a love of stories, and a desire to become a writer. She gives her readers hope and the sweet taste of what it’s like to follow your dreams.
Jacqueline Woodson is the winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, the recipient of three Newberry Honors for After Tupac and D Foster, Feathers and Show Way, and a two-time finalist for the National Book Award for Locomotion and Hush. Other awards include the Coretta Scott King Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Miracle’s Boys. Visit Jacqueline Woodson at her website.