An Award-Winning (and Unique) Memoir

When a book is not only a National Book Award winner but also a Coretta Scott King award winner and a Newbery Honor Book, perhaps it is worth reading. I'm talking about brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Just look at this book cover... the award stickers almost cover up the artwork!

I think what brought this book attention was Woodson's ability to express both specific and universal truths in her series of linked poems.

You might find brown girl dreaming in the poetry section, but it could just as easily have been shelved in the autobiographies. Woodson recollects what it was like to grow up in her particular family in the 1960's and 1970's as they moved from Ohio to South Carolina to Brooklyn. You get to know her sister and brothers, mother and grandparents, and will be able to explore the appended photo album to see what they all looked like.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards annually recognize outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience. Woodson's particular family encapsulates many aspects of life in America for black people in those decades: from the differences between living up North and down South to the civil rights movement and the Black Muslims.

And finally, Woodson captures her own growth from a girl who struggles with reading to a full-fledged author. Even when she can barely form her letters she has a compulsion to write:
"How can I explain to anyone that stories
are like air to me,
I breath them in and let them out
over and over again."

brown girl dreaming has been recognized as an outstanding book for young people. Such are its strengths that it should be recommended for readers of all ages.


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