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Brown Girl Dreaming

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  56,777 ratings  ·  8,280 reviews
Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the
Hardcover, 337 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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Ava I disagree. I'm in 8th - grade and I understood a lot of what the author was trying to convey through her poetry and I did understand many of the…moreI disagree. I'm in 8th - grade and I understood a lot of what the author was trying to convey through her poetry and I did understand many of the anecdotes and metaphors she used, so I think it is quite subjective. I would say this book sort of spans across all age groups. (less)
Starasia This is not a book of poetry; and it is a book of poetry, but it is a memoir written in free verse that tells a complete story from beginning to end.

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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  56,777 ratings  ·  8,280 reviews

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Jun 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So beautifully good I am ashamed to write about it. I am a Michigan white boy so moved by the brown girl writing of Ms. Woodson that I emailed her at one point in the book after a night of lost sleep due to a particularly beautiful and painful moment in the verse and and she wrote back to me! I was put at ease, until I reached the next moment in the book the following night that stole my sleep!

Gorgeous writing. Powerful images and so much heart that I am left breathless upon completion! I
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
really enjoyed this! it was interesting seeing the things that jacqueline went through growing up and how she handled herself. i'm normally not a huge fan of novels being written in verse, but i felt it worked really well for this story. will talk more about this one in an upcoming video!
I recently read Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn, and people here recommended that I read her middle grade kids book Brown Girl Dreaming. Like Another Brooklyn, Brown Girl Dreaming is a poetic account of Woodson's upbringing in South Carolina and Brooklyn. The entire book flows in dreamy poetry as Woodson describes growing up during the 1960s, and for that I rate it 4 lovely stars.

Jacqueline Woodson was born to Jack Woodson and Mary Ann Irby in 1963 in Columbus, Ohio. Her father was
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Jacqeuline Woodson recalls what life was like growing up in the 1960s and 1970s in this autobiographical middle grade novel. Written in verse, her account portrays a life divided between the North and the South, learning about the civil rights movement, and discovering a burgeoning passion for writing stories.

I am born as the South explodes,
too many people too many years
enslaved, then emancipated
but not
I listened to this audiobook with my two daughters (1st grade and 5th grade) and my grandmother on our most recent road trip. This book is beautifully written and the imagery was spectacular. It managed to captivate everyone in the car, which is saying something since there were 3 distinct generations represented.

Jacqueline Wilson describes her childhood, growing up in the 1960's. In her youth, her time was divided amongst Ohio, South Carolina, and later, New York. Each area provided a different
Angela M
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I've never read anything quite like this before - the telling of a life in such a unique way. The writing is lovely , the way it is told - memories in free style poetry. I don't know what I can say to do justice to what Woodson has accomplished here. Is it a memoir, a novel, a book of poetry? No matter how it is categorized, it is clear that this is precisely what Woodson says about it in her author's note "And that's what this book is - my past, my people, my memories, my story."

This is perhaps
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
brown girl dreaming, tu es formidable.

The more I look at this poetic memoir, the more I fall in love. These short poems have imprinted themselves onto my heart. They long to be remembered. And they will be, because they are powerful and true and incomparable.

brown girl dreaming, tu es inoubliable.

Jacqueline Woodson grew up in the North, with her mother, her father and her sister, and then she grew up in the South, with her mother, her sister, her brother and her grandparents, after her mother
Julie Christine
I’m having the most difficult time writing a review for brown girl dreaming. It’s so hard to bubble over and breathe and cry and write, all at the same time. Each and every page is a gift of wisdom and innocence and discovery. Heartbreak. Joy. Family. Loneliness. Childhood. History. I savored and smiled as I read. I wept. I rushed out to buy my own copy. I wish I could buy enough copies for the world.

My only reading goal for 2015 is to read more poetry. Without design—just luck of the queue at
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2014
A middle grade memoir in verse
is nothing I typically read
(or write, save this leap,
which feels like the only way to share).
But the bookish brown girl with butterflies
in a swirl of yellow-blue
promises a unique perspective.

My instinct to devour,
slip through the verse like prose,
would be tangled here.
But Woodson’s speed bump passages
remind me of her purpose and
have me reading memorized lines
through closed eyes.

Continue reading at
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Told through vivid poems, Jacqueline Woodson shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s. She covers everything from race to religion to the Civil Rights movement. Woodson's life was very complicated and very rich in detail, which I really loved. She's a natural storyteller that made me feel like I was transported back to each event through her writing. And I will remember her story for a long time to come.

As a result, I decided to share some of my favorite
Iris P
Brown Girl Dreaming
Jacqueline Woodson

 photo woodson_jacqueline_p_lg_1_zpsbilbpwc8.jpg
The author won the National Book Award in 2014 in the category of Young People's Literature for Brown Girl Dreaming

We tend to believe that the way our memory process works is similar to a movie playing back in our heads in a sort of linear, chronological order, in reality though, at least in my experience, memories come in flashes and moments, not in long scenes like in a book or a documentary.

According to some literary critics, the use of poems as a
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Listening to this middle grade novel on audio read by the author was a gift. Poetic. Genuine. A young girl dreams of being a writer. Stories of her family, growing up between Ohio, South Carolina, and New York, her loving grandparents; this is Jacqueline Woodson's story, but it's a story for everyone.

2017 Summer Read #22
“Even the silence
has a story to tell you.
Just listen. Listen.”

Such a beautiful memoir written in free verse. The pages were dripping with imagery and metaphors that so perfectly captured a moment or a thought. It touched on so many important themes like, family, race and intersectional feminism.
Whitney Atkinson
If I had to summarize this book into one word, it would be boring. I usually love books in verse, and this book's language was really pretty, but for some reason it didn't work for me. I'm not sure if it's because of the verse format that it was difficult to read, or just that the plot itself wasn't very interesting in the first place, but I definitely had to push myself to want to read this. But like I said, I did enjoy the writing in some parts. Was it life changing and inspiring and so great ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing way to tell her life's story, in wonderful prose. From Ohio, to South Carolina in the sixties, where things are changing but not quite quick enough, to New York. We learn the story of Woodson's family, their changing fortune and the wonderful relationship she had with her grandfather. Her calling to be a writer, and how she made up stories in preparation for the day she would be able to write her own. Her early induction as a Jehovah Witness and how this effected her young life. ...more
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, 2016

There is something so very real, honest, and about Jacqueline Woodson’s writing, regardless of what she’s writing about in “Brown Girl Dreaming.” Her prose contains heartrending stories, thoughts, musings, and emotions ranging from bliss to anger. There’s a childlike purity in her work, these snippets of thoughts that tell her story, stories… the story of her family, friends, her beliefs, her religion.

Growing up in the south in an era where so much change was taking place, where children were
Brown Girl Reading
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was really excited to finally receive my copy of Brown Girl Dreaming this month. I as anticipating reading something by Jacqueline Woodson who I had herd so much about. Brown Girl Dreaming is a poetic account of Woodson's family life while at the same time giving a very good idea about what life was like growing up in the South and in New York. Beautifully written and telling a sensitive true story of how she felt about things. I enjoyed everything about it. I can see this book being used a ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was so beautiful. It's written in poetry from the author's point of view when she was a child, and it's one of the most interesting pov's I've ever read. Not to mention how much I appreciate her perspective as a child with fighting for equality and dreaming of being an author.
What a pleasant surprise this one was for me. I heard a lot about the story some time ago and added it to my list. Now, with Woodson's new book out, I've been hearing more about her and both of these books. I added this one to my audio queue and didn't think much when it arrived.

The story is the early life story of the author. When she was growing up, very young, splitting her time between the South and New York City. I grabbed the audio, which is read by the author. Immediately something seemed
This is a DAMN good book. Press this into the hands of all middle grade readers, especially girls, especially girls of color, especially girls who don't think themselves to be great at school, especially girls who don't have an easy life at home.

Woodson writes excellent verse here, and the way she talks about herself, her place in social/political history, and her place within her family are absorbing and moving.
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2015
Really lovely. Woodson looks back at her childhood in a collection of free form "poems," in a stream of consciousness format. This may sound odd, but it is actually very astute. Don't we all remember our childhoods in bits and pieces; a mash-up of scattered events, snatches of conversations, impressions, feelings, scents and sounds? Woodson grows up partly in the south at a time of great social change, which makes this memoir all the more compelling.

A 4.5 for me.
What does a memoir owe its readers? For that matter, what does a fictionalized memoir written with a child audience in mind owe its readers? Kids come into public libraries every day asking for biographies and autobiographies. They’re assigned them with the teacher's intent, one assumes, of placing them in the shoes of those people who found their way, or their voice, or their purpose in life. Maybe there’s a hope that by reading about such people the kids will see that life has purpose. That ...more
Book Riot Community
Last year I read Another Brooklyn and was bummed out that I couldn’t really get into it. The writing was amazing but the characters felt distant. Still, I had heard only good things about Brown Girl Dreaming, so I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did! Whatever prevented me from connecting Another Brooklyn was clearly not present in Brown Girl Dreaming. The writing is elegantly simple, making it accessible to readers of every age. Woodson’s vignettes of her childhood growing up during the ...more
2014 National Book Award Winner, Young People's Literature.

This is an absolute magnificent piece of writing. But I had doubts when I started it; written in free verse, not necessarily my favorite type of reading, and it's aimed at a very narrow audience, middle grade girls. Don't let any of that stop you, this book can (and should) be read by everyone. The New York Times book reviewer, Veronica Chambers said, "Woodson pitched a big tent when she wrote this". This is a history lesson, told
Trina (Between Chapters)
It feels weird to rate the true story of someone's life. This isn't a genre or a format that I'm used to or really enjoy, but it's a great story worth being told. There were many powerful moments about family, race, faith, and discovering her passion for writing. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a memoir told in verse.
Anne Bogel
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was amazing. I highly recommend the audiobook, read by the author.
Elyse  Walters
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A book for All Ages! ....

There is so much more to this 'coming-of-age' memoir .... Its also an historical story which begins in the south during the Civil Rights Movement...
Racial issues were still evident even though the Jim Crow laws had been banished. ...
The story will end in New York City....(the city of dreams and lights)....

Told in verse --The storytelling is beautiful. I didn't think of this book as poetry ....(not in any ordinary sense).
As the author told her story about growing up
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, poetry
This is a beautifully written memoir set in poetry by the much acclaimed author Jacqueline Woodson. Jacqueline’s aunt Ada, a genealogist and family historian, provided Jacqueline with tremendous family history with which this book begins that adds depth and history to the memoir. There is always a contrast between the north an south running like a current through this book. Jacqueline and her family begin in Ohio visiting South Carolina in the summer. They ultimately begin alternating between ...more
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I should start by saying that in the general sense, I'm not a fan of novels written in verse. In this particular case, I think the format doesn't serve the story.

Re: the format - I don't know why this book says what it says in verse. I tend to be picky with free verse. I want conciseness. I want lyricism. I want every word examined, and every line, and every paragraph. And so I kept nitpicking each poem, wondering why it was written the way it was, and if it built on the overall narrative, and
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This might be one of the only books of poetry I've ever read and I savored every single morsel. Jacqueline Woodson brilliantly crafts this book as her own childhood fans out. Starting out tentatively and picking up speed and expertise. Cleverly crafted and meticulously executed, this book of poetry would be a great experience for any reader.

Taking place alternating between Greenville, SC and NYC during the racial wars, known as the civil rights movement. Jacqueline is the sweetest version of
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I used to say I’d be a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing.

I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories
“Even the silence
has a story to tell you.
Just listen. Listen.”
“But on paper, things can live forever.
On paper, a butterfly
never dies.”
More quotes…