Monday, August 31, 2015

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This book works for both the Newbery Challenge and the Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge.
Brown Girl Dreaming
Nancy Paulsen Books

This is an autobiography of the author's childhood starting with her birth and ending right before her teen years in Brooklyn. She was born in Ohio, grew up in South Carolina, and finally New York. Her mother left her father and she and two of her siblings spent their early childhood years in South Carolina with her grandparents. The children learned about God and were raised Jehovah's Witnesses and they learned the difference between growing up Black in the South and Black in the North. Woodson wrote this in verse form and it is a very appealing fast paced read. Beautifully written, you are drawn into the Woodson/Irby family and don't want to leave.

I can definitely see why this was a Newbery Honor and I love that two verse novels won Newberys this year. Verse novels appeal to middle grade readers, because they look big, but are easy and fast to read. I hear this time and again when the children are picking up the books. Like Crossover, Brown Girl Dreaming deals with family. Jacqueline was raised partially by her grandparents and by her single mother. She also faces a devastating losses as she grows, but continues to hold her family close. You can see Jacqueline's love of writing throughout the novel and you feel proud knowing she achieved her dream. With a great protagonist and insight into the changes of the 60s, I highly recommend this as a classroom read and it is definitely one I will booktalk. We are using this book in the class I am teaching as an example of diversity and autobiography at its finest. It is a National Book Award winner as well as a Coretta Scott King and Newbery winner. 5 cups of cocoa and this was a very deserving Newbery honor.

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