"Brown Girl Dreaming" by Jacqueline Woodson
Who Should Read It: Everyone.
Raised in both South Carolina and New York, Jacqueline Woodson grew up feeling like each place was both home and not quite home at the same time. Living in both the South and the North in the 1960’s and 1970’s Civil Rights era, it seemed as though she lived two different lives.
In Brown Girl Dreaming, the National Book Award winner shares the moving story of her childhood, what life was like for an African American girl growing up in the Civil Rights movement in both two very different places.
But this book is much more than your standard memoir. Woodson writes in a beautiful and touching manner, sharing her childhood through incredible free verse. The book originally is aimed at a middle grade audience but it will move and touch readers of every age.
Jacqueline was born in Ohio but at a young age moved with her siblings to live in her mother’s hometown in South Carolina. As a young teenager she then moved again with her siblings to live with their mother in New York. Along the way, against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement, we watch her discover the beauty of words and her ability to share stories.
I had heard of Jacqueline Woodson’s work but never thought I’d read any of it given that I don’t read Middle Grade or Young Adult books. But after hearing so much about this book in the days after the National Book Awards (and I mean about the book, not just the controversy), I knew that I should read it.
Throughout the entire book I just thought, I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to read it. I borrowed the book from the library but I will definitely be buying it for her. Not just that, I want to go get the audiobook and let Jacqueline tell me her story herself.
There is so much to this book that all young people need to read. It’s about chasing your dreams no matter what your circumstance, about a pivotal moment in a nation’s history, about words and stories and how they affect our lives. This book won’t just affect brown girls in America, it will affect everyone who reads it.