Brown Girl Dreaming

browngirldreamingWritten by Jacqueline Woodson

In this unique memoir, Jacqueline Woodson relates the memories, stories, and struggles of her childhood in a collection of free verse lyric and narrative poetry. For the most part each poem could stand on its own, but read together they form a rich story of a girl growing up and seeking after her dreams; in Woodson’s case the dream is to be a writer.

These poems and stories are rich with humor, wonderful wordplay, vivid imagery of life in South Carolina and later Brooklyn, and an intense realness that comes from an author writing authentically and honestly about her own life. Throughout the book there is a palpable feeling of love for family and friends, even as the poems acknowledge the challenges and conflicts inherent in family life, and perhaps because the poems acknowledge those challenges. Though many of the struggles related are unique to her family circumstances and the struggles of growing up as a person of color in America in the 1960s, they are real, everyday struggles to which every child will readily relate. The quick-reading free verse and resultant white space on the pages will make this accessible to some reluctant and struggling readers, but there is substance to spare for more advanced readers to digest.

This book inspires me to be a better, more authentic writer and a better family member and friend, and I’m sure it will inspire many other readers as well. This is a special book and a great contribution to children’s literature. A Newbery Medal and other awards are likely in its future and would be completely deserved.

Review by Josh Whiting, Educational Technology Dept.Media Center
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 4+

Author Website:

Brown Girl Dreaming
Written by Jacqueline Woodson
Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Group
337 pages
Release Date: August 28, 2014
ISBN: 9780399252518 (hardcover)

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3 thoughts on “Brown Girl Dreaming”

  1. I loved this beautifully written autobiography by Jacqueline Woodson. It was interesting to note the thin line she was raised to walk of being proud of her Negro family and culture , yet still be wise enough to not rock the boat for her legal civil rights, for her own safety. Her lovely butterfly poems so mirrored Jacqueline’s own transformation and growth in her talent as an emerging writer, and her two different lives living in the south and then moving to NYC. Fingers crossed for this one to win the Newbery Award.

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