5 stars for Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, on sale now.
Genre: Children’s / Middle Grade Literature
My rating: 5 out 5 stars
The first book I read by Jacqueline Woodson was If You Come Softly and Behind You in 2011. After consuming the book within a few hours I wished I had known of her talent sooner. I felt a piece of my book nerd soul revived by her way to weave a story and draw me into a book that was geared towards an age group so very different from my own. Ms. Woodson has the ability to take one on an emotional journey, where you feel hurt, anger, and healed all within a few chapters. So when I found out that a galley for Brown Girl Dreaming would be given out at Book Expo America 2014, I knew this would be the book I had to get.
I remember the experience so vividly. I, among many others stalked the Penguin booth like they were handing out gold and honestly Brown Girl Dreaming is literary gold. Barely 5 minutes after I got my hands on Ms. Woodson’s latest work I was sitting in my companies booth reading the galley using Post-It tabs to mark my favorite pieces. Brown Girl Dreaming tells the story of Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood in verse. Through poetry we are taken through her world in the 1960’s and 1970’s of her time in Columbus, Ohio, Greenville, South Caroline, and Brooklyn, New York.
Ms. Woodson states Brown Girl Dreaming
reflects the joy of finding my voice through writing stories, despite the fact that I struggled with reading as a child. My love of stories inspired and stayed with me, creating the first sparks of the writer I was to become. (via jacquelinewoodson.com)
While Jacqueline Woodson was reflecting on the joy of finding her voice, she was making me find all the feels while teaching me about writing, listening, and remembering how I learned about freedom, by learning how to let go of something so beautiful.
It’s easier to make up stories
than it is to write them down. When I speak,
the words come pouring out of me. The story
wakes up and walks all over the room. Sits in a chair,
crosses one leg over the other, says,
Let me introduce myself. Then just starts going on and on.
But as I bend over my composition notebook,
only my name
comes quickly. Each letter, neatly printed
between the pale blue lines. Then white
space and air and me wondering, How do I
spell introduce? Trying again and again
until there is nothing but pink
bits of eraser and a hole now
where a story should be. (Brown Girl Dreaming, page 217 )
how to listen #7
Even the silence
has a story to tell you.
Just listen. Listen. (Brown Girl Dreaming, page 278)
the last fireflies
We know our days are counted here.
Each evening we wait for the first light
of the last fireflies, catch them in jars
then let them go again. As though we understand
their need for freedom.
As though our silent prayers to stay in Greenville
will be answered if
we do what we know is right. (Brown Girl Dreaming, page 107)
As enamored as I was with Ms. Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, so was the world. Brown Girl Dreaming went on to win this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. You can view Jacqueline Woodson receiving the National Book Award and reading excerpts from her award-winning book on the National Book Foundation website.
— Penguin Books USA (@penguinusa) November 20, 2014
I adore Brown Girl Dreaming and to share my love of this book with you all, I’m giving one lucky person the opportunity to win a galley copy of the book. Regardless if you win the giveaway or not, I highly recommended everyone read Brown Girl Dreaming and every book by Jacqueline Woodson you can get your hands on.
[Featured Image SOURCE; EXCERPTS: Woodson, J. (2014) Brown Girl Dreaming. New York, NY: Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Group]