Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is an autobiographical YA book in verse about her experience growing up first in North Carolina, and then New York City, in the 1960s. Brown Girl Dreaming is a Newbery Honor book, a Loretta Scott King Award winner, and a National Book Award winner.
Jacqueline begins by painting a picture of her extended family and her birth in Ohio, and then branches out from there. I felt as though I got to know her strong mother, her loving grandparents, her book- and science-loving siblings. But most of all I felt as though I got to know Jacqueline: her talent for storytelling; her caring, creative child spirit; her love of her best friend Maria. She describes her experience as a young Black girl in the racist South, and then her pride and involvement in the “revolution,” as she calls it, as a girl in New York City.
The poetry of Brown Girl Dreaming is beautiful in its simplicity. Sometimes when I read books in verse, I worry that the story won’t come across as well as it could in prose, but Brown Girl Dreaming has a strong story—not a plot, per se, but the story of the Woodsons. I love reading about little girls with dreams (especially when their dreams are about books and writing). And I love knowing that they grew up and followed them.