Welcome to the Same Page 2020 Online Discussion.
While JMRL wasn’t able to host most of the events planned for the 2020 Same Page community-wide read, we can all come together online to talk about Jacquline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming. If you didn’t get a free copy of the book during the kick-off at each branch in February, you can still check out copies online:
About the author (from poetryfoundation.org)
Jacqueline Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio and grew up in Greenville, South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of over 30 books for children and young adults, including From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (1995), recipient of both the Coretta Scott King Honor and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award; Miracle’s Boys (2000), which also won the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Hush (2002), which was a National Book Award Finalist; Locomotion (2003), also a National Book Award Finalist; Coming on Home Soon (2004), a Caldecott Honor Book and a Booklist Editors’ Choice; and Behind You (2004), which was included in the New York Public Library’s list of best Books of the Teen Age. Three of Woodson’s books have won the Newbery Honor: Show Way (2005), Feathers (2007), and After Tupac & D Foster (2008). Her recent books include the young adult novel Beneath a Meth Moon (2012); and Brown Girl Dreaming (2014), a novel in verse about Woodson’s family and segregation in the South, which won the National Book Award and the Newbery Honor Award. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Woodson described how she wrote the book: “As I interviewed relatives in both Ohio and Greenville, S.C., I began to piece together the story of my mother’s life, my grandparents’ lives and the lives of cousins, aunts and uncles. These stories, and the stories I had heard throughout my childhood, were told with the hope that I would carry on this family history and American history, so that those coming after me could walk through the world as armed as I am.”
Woodson has received numerous honors and awards for her many books. She was given the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, the St. Katharine Drexel Award, and the Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers’ Literature. Jonathan Demme is adapting her novel Beneath a Meth Moon (2012) for the screen. In 2016 she received an honorary degree from Adelphi University.
Woodson served as the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her family.
About Brown Girl Dreaming (from jacquelinewoodson.com)
Brown Girl Dreaming tells the story of my childhood, in verse. Raised in South Carolina and New York, I always felt halfway home in each place. In these poems, I share what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and my growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.
It also reflects the joy of finding my voice through writing stories, despite the fact that I struggled with reading as a child. My love of stories inspired and stayed with me, creating the first sparks of the writer I was to become.
I wanted to understand who my mom was before she was my mother and I wanted to understand exactly how I became a writer. So I started researching my life, asking relatives and talking to friends – and mostly, just letting myself remember.
How to participate in the discussion
No login required! Pick one of the questions below. In the comments, tell us what number question you’re answering and what you think. You can choose to post your own or to reply to a comment to start a conversation. JMRL staff will be facilitating and moderating the discussion.
- Jacqueline’s mother tells her children that they will experience a “moment when you walk into a room and/no one there is like you” (14). Have you experienced this? What might this feel like?
- Why does Woodson structure her memoir into five distinct parts? How does this choice add to the story?
- Where does Jacqueline start to see change happening in her life? Where does she start to see it in the world in which she lives?
- What is Jacqueline’s attitude toward God and religion? How does she seem conflicted?
- Jacqueline loves writing because it allows her to create the worlds she imagines. What world did she create through her memoir? Is there an end to her story?