Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Information: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson was published in 2014 by Nancy Paulsen books. ISBN: 0399252517

Plot Summary: Brown Girl Dreaming is a retelling of Jacqueline Woodson’s family history through free verse. Jacqueline tells the many stories of her grandparents, parents, and her childhood. The stories Jacqueline tells explores the difficulties and struggles of an African-American family growing up in the American South before and during the Civil Rights movement. Jacqueline begins her stories about her grandparents and how her parents were raised. In beautiful free verse, Jacqueline builds the foundation of her family for readers to allow them to see how American history shaped families. She includes her family’s move from South Carolina to New York and shows the regionally differences in America. Her family stories reveal how racism, socioeconomic status, and an unbreakable f51-pl9bj7il-_sx331_bo1204203200_amily bond can determine how a child grows up.  

Critical Evaluation: Jacqueline Woodson uses free verse to not only detail the history of the last three generations of her family, but also reveal her own opinions about the difficulties her family continually faced as an African- American family. Her unique and personal perspective of being a child during such turbulent times, shows how years of family experiences can come forward in the next generation. Her raw honesty about her family’s experiences shows how powerfully telling someone’s personal perspective can be on the history of a region and the strength of a family.

Reader’s Annotation: Brown Girl Dreaming is a brave telling of the author’s family’s last three generations in free verse. Jacqueline Woodson reveals the difficulties her family faced before and during the Civil Rights movement, including racism and socioeconomic struggles.

Author’s InformationJacqueline Woodson’s awards include 3 Newbery Honors, a Coretta Scott King Award and 3 Coretta Scott King Honors, 2 National Book Awards, a Margaret A. Edwards Award and an ALAN Award — both for Lifetime Achievement in YA Literature. She is the author of more than 2 dozen books for children and young adults and lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York (Amazon)

Genre: Young Adult Non Fiction, Autobiography, Poetry

Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas

Book Talk Ideas:

  • Besides free verse, what are some other creative ways one can tell their family history?
  • What important historical movements have impacted the most recent generation of families?

Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 7-9 and Ages 12-15

Challenge Issues: Racism

Challenge Defense File:

Selection Policy

The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.

The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).  


Woodson, J. (2014). Brown Girl Dreaming. New York, New York: Nancy Paulsen Books. Brown Girl Dreaming was published for middle school and high school students to detail her immediate family history. Woodson used free verse to show creative ways to recall her family history and how she was raised. Woodson tells the story of her family to reveal how racism and other difficulties shaped her family. Other recommendations like this book include: The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford, and Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton.

Active Listening Skills

  • Remain calm
  • Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
  • Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree


  • National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (2014)
  • Newbery Honor (2015)
  • YALSA Award Nominee for Excellence in Nonfiction (2015)

Reconsideration Form


Selection Tools:

Why I chose this book:

I chose this book for the creative and personal way Jacqueline Woodson examines important issues like racism and the Civil Rights movement. Brown Girl Dreaming explores how American families were impacted by these issues and how their children were raised.


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