Vermont Reads 2017

Brown Girl Dreaming

About Jacqueline Woodson and Brown Girl Dreaming

About Jacqueline Woodson

Readers of Brown Girl Dreaming will know that Jacqueline Woodson was born in Ohio, raised in South Carolina and then Brooklyn, and found her calling as a storyteller early in life. She has since written more than thirty books, including picture books, middle grade books, and young adult titles. Her books have received wide acclaim and many awards, including four Newbery Honor Awards, two Coretta Scott King Awards, the N.A.A.C.P. Image Award, and the National Book Award.

In 2015, Woodson was named Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She also serves on the advisory committee for “We Need Diverse Books,” an organization that advocates for publication and promotion of literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people, and that enables more children to see reflections of themselves in the books they read.

In 2016, she published Another Brooklyn, a novel for adults that has been shortlisted for the National Book Award. Woodson currently lives in Brooklyn.

Visit Jacqueline Woodson’s official website.

Selected Interviews:

Jacqueline Woodson on Growing Up, Coming Out, And Saying Hi to Strangers.” This interview with Jacqueline Woodson was aired on NPR’s Fresh Air and Code Switch programs in December 2014, just after Brown Girl Dreaming received the National Book Award.

Jimmy Carter and Jacqueline Woodson on Race, Religion and Rights.” New York Times writer Philip Galanes conducts a joint interview with Jimmy Carter and Jacqueline Woodson.  July 24, 2015.

“Poet to Poet: Carole Boston Weatherford and Jacqueline Woodson,” September  18, 2014 In this brief interview from the “Poetry For Children” blog, poet Carole Boston Weatherford talks with Jacqueline Woodson about the poets who have influenced her.

In this half-hour recording made in 2012, before the release of Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson talks about her writing process and inspirations.

About Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir written in verse, that explores what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and a growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson felt halfway home in each place. In this series of vivid poems, Woodson shares the joy of finding her voice through writing stories despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become. Brown Girl Dreaming received the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, a Coretta Scott King Award, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Young Adult Fiction, and a Newbury Honor Award.

We have created an index of the book’s major themes and topics (PDF) which may be useful as you develop Vermont Reads activities for your community.

Selected Reviews of the Book:

Where We Enter: Jacqueline Woodson’s ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’” by Veronica Chambers, New York Times, Sunday Book Review, August 22, 2014.

“Review of the Day: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson,” by Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal, June 2, 2014.  

Other Resources about the Book:

Jacqueline Woodson reads aloud a poem, “Bushwick History Lesson” from Brown Girl Dreaming (p. 297).

This episode of the Diane Rehm Show from April 29, 2015, is an in-depth discussion of Brown Girl Dreaming with Jamelle Bouie, a staff writer on politics, policy, and race at Slate; David Orr, poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review; and Dana Williams, professor of African American literature and chair of the English department at Howard University.

Teaching Guides:

“Exploring Perspectives on Desegregation Using Brown Girl Dreaming,” from  This lesson plan contains a complete instructional plan and related resources for using Brown Girl Dreaming with grades 5-9.

This teacher’s guide created by Penguin has Common Core Standard-aligned classroom activities for nine of Jacqueline Woodson’s books, including Brown Girl Dreaming.

This “Teachers Teaching Writing” wiki has notes and classroom ideas for Brown Girl Dreaming compiled by five teachers.

Jen Vincent of the “Teach Mentor Texts” blog reviews the book and includes several writing prompt ideas.