Woodson, J. (2014). Brown Girl Dreaming. New York, NY: Nancy Paulsen Books.
This is an amazing book that has won several awards and the author Jacqueline Woodson has won multiple lifetime achievement awards. The book is recommended for middle grade readers, which suits the book very well. The book is a biography but is unique because it is written entirely in verse. This makes it a great book to recommend to tweens who are assigned to read a biography but are reluctant readers or who say they don’t like nonfiction. It is also a great book for tweens who are interested in history particularly African-American history as well as a tween looking for a unique book to read.
The book begins with a poem about Jacqueline’s birth the poems continue through her life as she grows up piecing together her memories with stories her family told her. The overall narrative of these poems shows how she discovered her love of writing as well as telling readers about the civil rights movement and how her own family left the south. These poems are divided into a few sections each covering a different part of her life. She was born in Ohio but moved to South Carolina to live with her grandparents when her mother left her father. She stayed with her grandparents while her mother moved to New York with her aunt to find a place for them to live. She then moved to New York with her mother and her grandmother eventually joined them there after the death of her grandfather at the end of the book. This moving around and visits back to her grandparents in the summer shows the differences in the attitudes of the adults around her in regards to the civil right movement between those living in the North and the South as well a generational differences between her mother, aunt and uncle and her grandparents. This is an interesting insight into how the civil rights movement was shaped by different people. This makes it a great book to include in book displays or book lists relating to the civil rights movement. Additionally Jacqueline’s own discovery of her love of writing and lifetime achievement awards makes it a great book for display or book list about inspirational people.