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Biographical/Autobiographical, Free Verse, Middle Grade Readers, Teacher & Parent Recommendations, Young Adult Readers

BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl dreaming Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is a remarkably accessible autobiographical account of the author’s childhood written in free verse that flows easily from page to page, smoothly linking each moment to the next in the story.

Told through free verse, Jacqueline’s story from her earliest memories of her parents, her grandparents and her brothers and sisters is an easy read full of distinctive detail.  Young readers will have no trouble identifying with another child who is sometimes confused by the world–and the adults–around her.  The moments of joy are just as infectious as when you experience them yourself, the sad moments just as genuine.

Because the pacing and the language are so succinctly chosen and maintained young readers will be more likely to read this autobiographical novel from beginning to end.  Brown Girl Dreaming could be a great classroom read-aloud in conjunction with a biography/autobiography unit or alongside a history or social studies unit relating to the 1960’s and the Civil Rights movement.  It would also be a popular choice with young girls, as they will find in Jacqueline Woodson a strong female role model with a strong sense of her own empowerment and place in this world, summed up in one of her final offerings in the book:

When there are many worlds

you can choose the one

you walk into each day


Each day a new world

opens itself up to you.  And all the worlds you are–


gather into one world


called you


where You decide


what each world

and each story

and each ending


will finally be.



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