I hope you, like me, were jumping out of your seat and gleefully exclaiming “Yes!” when you heard the news of Jackie Woodson’s win at the National Book Awards last week. The other contenders were all strong, but this book is amazing. In fact, if you want to read more of my thoughts about Brown Girl Dreaming, you can click here to go to my review. Two things are still ever-present from that review. One, I want Brown Girl Dreaming to win ALL THE AWARDS – it’s just that good. I want the cover to look like the cover for Walter Dean Myers’ Monster. I want there to be so many stickers on that book that you have to buy a poster of the cover art so everyone can see its beauty undisguised. And two, I am still reading the poem from page 61 to my students as they come for book talks, each time to gasps of appreciation. This last week I had a student exclaim, “That’s me!” Yes, yes it is you, affluent young blonde boy from the suburbs, that is you. Her poems are all of us.
Woodson’s young adult titles explore themes that are equally universally resonant. The pain of loss, the excruciating joys and sorrows of finding your place in the world, how to go on in the face of experiences that seem as if they will crush your soul, the importance of relationship – all are found within the pages of her novels. She is a blessing to those of us who constantly seek to put books into the hands of students who are underrepresented in today’s published novels, due to race, socioeconomic status, or GLTBQ identity. Her strong voice will be with us long after she is gone.
As you know if you’ve read Brown Girl Dreaming, Woodson grew up in both Greenville, South Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. A full time writer, she teaches creative writing in the graduate program at City College for Goddard College. She also works with the National Book Foundation’s Summer Writing Camp to teach writing to young people from disadvantaged communities. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her partner and their two children.
Jacqueline Woodson has won so many awards over the years that I fear to list them lest I miss one. However, forging on, Woodson was the recipient of the 2006 Margaret A Edwards Award for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. She has received the Newbery Honor on 3 occasions, been a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s literature twice previously, been given the Coretta Scott King Honor 4 times and won it once, and had one of her books be awarded the Caldecott Honor.
Young Adult novels
- Beneath a Meth Moon
- Behind You
- If You Come Softly
- Miracle’s Boys
- From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun
- I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This
- The House You Pass on the Way
- The Dear One
Some other ‘W’ authors I love