book review, Multicultural Children's Book Day

Brown Girl Dreaming and delving into the topic of memoir

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Jacqueline Woodson is a woman who on a couple of occasions has had me coming out of my seat and screaming my head off as I do the Dance for Joy.

Jacqueline Woodson

The very first time this happened is when I was sitting at my computer on January day in 2015 listening to the ALA awards and they announced ” And the Newbery award goes to Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.”

I can tell you that I screaming. Like up, out of my seat screaming. There I stood before my computer screen applauding this great talent in children’s literature. Now the whole world knew my secret. Brown Girl Dreaming had been my very favorite book since it had been published. I felt like I had made a friend during the turning of these pages. Jacqueline Woodson gave me a window to her world. I felt as if it had been written for just little ol me.

Jacqueline Woodson

Never had I seen memoir executed with such precision and ease of reading. You see Jacqueline just didn’t write her memoir in narrative. Nope, she wrote it in prose and verse and let’s not forget the really important part, she wrote it in prose and verse for children. In great simplicity and articulation she has conveyed a collection of childhood memories, memories we can connect with profoundly.

The second time Jacqueline had me coming out of my seat was in the middle of a meeting. I was meeting with two of mommy friends and co-workers, one Pragmatic and the other Frantic. It was this past autumn when we were discussing our upcoming Multicultural Children’s Book Day. During this meeting we got the message that Jacqueline was supporting MCCBD as a Bronze Sponsor. We did the Happy Dance as together we support the awareness of diversity and multiculturalism in children’s literature.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is an act of extreme love. We just complete our third year of this online celebration created to shine the spotlight on multicultural books and authors and each year it grows considerably. Our mission is not only to bring awareness to Multicultural and Diverse kid lit but to put it in the hands of children. Last year we had 26 million people joining in and sharing in the celebration. I know it will be even MORE this year 🙂

What Happens During and after January 27th

Ginormous Linky Party

This year we have over 180 bloggers who will be reviewing multicultural and diverse children’s books and then linking them to our Linky. You can find it right her on January 27th. If you have a blog post about a diverse or multicultural book please feel free to link up as well. It’s one way to create a big resource list for those of us who are looking for these book titles.

FREE Books for Classrooms! Teachers! We want to help you build your classroom library with diverse, inclusive and multicultural books! The Junior Library Guild has generously donated 200 library quality, hardcover, prescreened multicultural children’s books to get into classroom. Go HERE to learn how to get a free book for your classroom library!


Something To Do

We could not talk about Brown Girl Dreaming without delving into the topic of memoir.

“Write what should not be forgotten.” Isabel Allende

What Memoir Is:

  • Memoir is a story that has happened to the writer. It’s written in the first person.
  • Memoir is a story which makes you feel something. Does it make you feel happy, sad, frustrated, angry,nostalgic etc.
  • Memoirs are about events that have happened to the writer.
  • Memoirs often times includes the writer’s family and friends.

What Memoir Isn’t

  • A Memoir is not an autobiography. An autobiography covers someone’s entire life up to that point. A memoir deals with a specific period of the writer’s life.
  • Memoirs generally do not share the author’s feelings about the situation.
  • Memoir isn’t fiction.

“Stories have to be told or the die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here. ” Sue Monk Kidd

A Fantastically Fun Memoir Activity

You in Six Words

Jacqueline Woodson uses verse, prose and poetry to convey her memories in Brown Girl Dreaming. We are going to do the same thing but we’re going to do it in just six words.

  1. Think of something about yourself. Think about your favorite food, sport, hobby, musical instrument, religion , race, culture, etc.
  2. Another idea is to think about a recent event like a birthday, holiday, or summer action.
  3. You could also write about a past event or write about your family.
  4. Brainstorm and think about six words that best convey the meaning of your topic. Have paper handy. I promise that you will think of more words than you can use.
  5. Write your six word memoir.

You in Six Words M & M Challenge

I’m sure thinking of six words to convey your moment in time was very easy. So now let’s get some food involved. Maybe some of our favorite candy such as M & M, skittles work as well. 😉

You will need a bag of M& Ms. We’re using plain but choose what makes you happy.

Open the bag, reach in and pull out one M & M.

Depending on the color, write about the following topic.

  • Red: Something you’ve learned in the past week.
  • Orange: Something you just can’t live without.
  • Yellow: Something you do well, like yodeling or any other great feat,skill or talent.
  • Blue: Tell us something that happened yesterday.
  • Brown: Tell us about a childhood memory.
  • Green: Tell us about your favorite actor/actress, singer, song or TV show.

Write down all of the ideas you can think of surrounding your topic. Now pick just six words and make them into a sentence. 🙂

Tired of just six words ? OK here are some more ideas.

And Even More Memoir Ideas

  • Beads on a String: Write down a small collection of moments, or memories. Link them via a theme, a common element or a repeated line or word.
  • Theme Text: I’m not talking about texting here I’m talking about narrative. Pick a them and write a narrative about moments which happen in this them such as your birthday, holidays, family vacations, moving, grandparents, a family pet etc.
  • Window; Selecting a moment in your life, write a narrative which works like a window. Let us have a view into a moment of your life as fi we’re viewing it from a window or looking in  through a window.

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7 thoughts on “Brown Girl Dreaming and delving into the topic of memoir

  1. Okay, I need to get Brown Girl Dreaming on my list! Next visit to the library I’ll have to add this book! Thanks for sharing with us at #MMBH! Can you tell you have me all excited to read Brown Girl Dreaming 🙂

  2. I am also SUCH a fan of Brown Girl Dreaming! Great ideas for memoir too – we are just starting a memoir unit with my third graders. Food for thought! Thanks for linking up with #diversekidlit!

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