Book cover: Brown Girl Dreamingby Jacqueline Woodson
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014
320 pgs
Grades 4-8

Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1963.

In Brown Girl Dreaming, Woodson uses free verse to tell her story.

Raised in South Carolina and New York in the midst of segregation and Civil Rights, Woodson struggles with family challenges, with learning to read, and with the complex and sometimes dangerous social realities that surround her.

But she also discovers the power of stories and finds her voice.

Brown Girl Dreaming, a National Book Award Winner, expertly weaves together the life of a young girl growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, with the complex social issues surrounding the times.

The focus of the story is always on Jacqueline, but through her we learn about racial justice issues in the North and South.

We see the way different people understand and move through a world of racism and fear. We see how a mother struggles to do what she thinks is best for her family, and we see the way that standing up for your rights doesn’t always end with good triumphing over hatred.

Through all these interwoven issues, we see Jacqueline struggle to find her place in her family and in the world.

We see her confidence grow and her dreams become reality, and we feel hopeful because we know that following your passions – and creating a better world — is possible.

This book has much to offer, including experiencing American history from one girl’s point of view; exploring childhood, hope, loneliness, family, and joy; and comparing the state of issues like racism and justice in the 60’s and 70’s to now.