**The posts I write might contain affiliate links or be written in collaboration with businesses or brands. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.**
I am so happy to be able to welcome the funnest librarian on the planet, Pam Margolis from the Unconventional Librarian and her post; Kid Writing and Biographies: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson to the Discover Your World Summer Reading Extravaganza!
I believe that growing up in the South during the civil rights era is akin to growing up in different country. We all know that people of color were not treated well in the South. It’s difficult to imagine that there was a time when literature for children did not include people of color. Of any color.
Jacqueline Woodson, a powerful voice for multicultural children and teens, was born in Ohio in the 60s. Her childhood was spent in South Carolina and Ohio before finally settling in New York City. Imagine watching the differences in the interactions between Whites and Blacks from a child’s perspective. Woodson’s sensitivity to a child’s thoughts is uncanny. There are many ways to incorporate family projects into the reading of this book.
What I love about Brown Girl Dreaming is that not only is it an autobiography (written in free verse) but it’s also a tale of the civil rights movement told through the voice of a child. Even the youngest child will understand the meaning of the behaviors described in the book. For example:
In the stores downtown
we’re always followed around
just because we’re brown.
Any point in the book is a great opportunity to discuss race, our differences, and similarities. There are so many teachable moments in this book. In addition to discussing civil rights, the book would also make a great study of Black literature, for example, young Jackie discovers Langston Hughes:
I loved my friend.
He went away from me.
There’s nothing more to say.
The poem ends.
Soft as it began—
I loved my friend.
I remember when I first discovered Langston Hughes and this sad poem. I was instantly moved. Fortunately, young Jackie is discovering her writing voice and she writes a poem in response to Hughes:
I love my friend
and still do
when we play games
we laugh. I hope she never goes away from me
Because I love my friend.
She was in fourth grade, when she wrote that, can you believe it? Wouldn’t this make a great lesson on poetry writing or writing your own biography? When given the proper tools, children are amazingly astute writers.
The book will be published in August; perhaps writing could be a late summer project for your family? If your family can’t wait until August to learn more about Jacqueline Woodson, there are many books to become acquainted with:
This is the Rope (a story of migration)
Each Kindness (a story on bullying)
Many of Woodson’s books are multiple award winners, so I’m sure you’ll find at least one good book for your family to enjoy together.
p.s. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her twice and I’m proud to say I acted like a complete idiot each time (gabbing and fawning all over her); but I don’t care. Good authors are my rock stars.
Brown Girl Dreaming could also be the title of my autobiography. What could the title of yours be?
READ. ALL. THE BOOKS!!!
Pam, a.k.a. An Unconventional Librarian, is a curator of YA and children’s literature, a book blogger, coffee drinker and cupcake lover, who seeks multicultural books that appeal to all kids. Pam is also building a Harry Potter collection to enter the record books and she thinks being a little silly never hurts. You can connect with Pam on her website Pinterest page or on her Facebook page.