Jacqueline Woodson Shares Her Favorite Books

Posted by Cybil on September 1, 2019
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Jacqueline Woodson seems to have been born to be a writer. Even as a young child, she would write constantly.

"I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories across sidewalks and penciled tiny tales in notebook margins. I loved and still love watching words flower into sentences and sentences blossom into stories," she's written about her formative years.

And clearly, she hasn't slowed down since. Today she's the bestselling author of more than two dozen award-winning books, including Another Brooklyn, a New York Times bestseller and 2016 National Book Award finalist for adult fiction.

Among her many accolades, Woodson is a four-time National Book Award finalist, a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a two-time NAACP Image Award winner, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her New York Times–bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, received the National Book Award in 2014.

This month she's back with her novel Red at the Bone.


Goodreads: Introduce readers to Red at the Bone. What inspired the new book?

Jacqueline Woodson: Red at the Bone is the story of a family, of legacy, of loss, of love, and of gold. And I guess it was inspired by the same things.

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GR: You’ve won acclaim with books for adults, young adults, and children. How do you approach storytelling in different ways for those audiences, and how is the approach similar?

JW: I think of the age of the protagonist. I think of who the story is about and what it’s trying to say and how it’s saying it. Then I just keep on writing.

GR: How do you define a “young adult” novel as you’re writing it?

JW: Mainly it’s the publisher that defines a book. I think all books are for all people.

GR: In your upcoming TED Talk, you describe storytelling as “one of the earliest forms of connective technology.” Tell us a bit about that and how it informs your work.

JW: But if I tell you about it, you won’t watch my TED Talk! It’s out on September 12 and will clarify that statement.

GR: What books are you currently reading and recommending to friends?

JW: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Dominicana by Angie Cruz, rereading On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, and Mildred Taylor’s latest.

I’d recommend all of them.

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GR: What are some of your all-time-favorite books?

JW: Sula—of course. But isn’t it everybody’s?

The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds.

Anything and everything by Tracy K. Smith.

Anything and everything by Naomi Shihab Nye.

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde.

This list could go on forever.

GR: You have so many books across genres and forms. What’s next for you?

JW: A picture book, a middle-grade book, a nonfiction book, and a nap.



Jacqueline Woodson's novel Red at the Bone will be available in the U.S. on September 17. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf. Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews and get more great book recommendations.

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by TMR (new)

TMR They all sound so good!


message 2: by Shabahanggasht (new)

Shabahanggasht its very good


message 3: by Tessa (new)

Tessa "JW: Mainly it’s the publisher that defines a book. I think all books are for all people. "

Yes! Great answer. :)


message 4: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Keeley never heard of any of them.


Minnelli Rodriguez rigth this icool amgoing to try it


message 6: by Book2Dragon (new)

Book2Dragon So where can I read/hear the interview? Love her books.


message 7: by Clark (new)

Clark See the list of books that are of someone's favorite so if you think these are the best ones then i hope that you will be able to find out about essaytigers review them as soon as possible. He can explain it to you in full detail if only you are interested so try this.


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