#readingforchange: Brown Girl Dreaming

And just like that, day four of Reading for Change is here! Some of you have joined me, in the same books I’m reading and by solely reading other books by black authors in honor of Black History Month.

Alexandre Dulaunoy

Today we’re discussing Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreamingwhich I know a ton of you joined in reading. So let’s just say this: Leave a comment. Tell us what you loved about the book. Dialogue with others who read (or are dying to read) Woodson’s poetry. Include a link to your blog post, if you wrote about it elsewhere. Then, call it good to go.

Y’all ready? Enter in!

Her words aren’t necessarily
what I’d read,

It’s free verse poetry told from the perspective
of a young black girl
becoming a teenager
transforming into a woman.

So it’s her heart,

an innocent perspective.

It’s the lens
through which
she views the world,
gulps down history

[Jim Crow South,
Rosa Parks and the big bus boycott,
the Civil Rights Movement,
Dr. King,
Malcolm X,
a girl named Ruby Bridges,
Freedom Singers, to name a few],

understands her family,
grows into herself.

The reader is transported to
the South
the Midwest
and New York.

And it is in these travels and stories of everyday life that she comes of age.

She finds
in words.

She finds
in friendship.

She finds
what she believes
about God and church and religion,
about faith and lack there of,
about her own role in belief.

read the book,
enter the poetry,
hear the unique perspective her voice
to this world.

Then try and write
a free verse
poem of your own.

And be amazed.

For you,
my friend,
are a poet, too.



How’s that for a little free verse review? While I read the book via Audible (and enjoyed the voice of the author herself), I’ve been told by multiple people that seeing it in print is a must. So, support Jacqueline Woodson and go pick up a copy of Brown Girl Dreaming. Otherwise, if you read the book, what’d you think? What did it teach you about life and love, history and words and following your heart alike?

10 thoughts on “#readingforchange: Brown Girl Dreaming

  1. I had so many “stop and take it in” moments as I read this book. So many, “Holy cack! I have NEVER thought about THAT before” moments. And, “This is the life a few of my students MIGHT know” moments. What an incredibly simple, yet so challenging, book to read. It has been added to my “Must Read Again” list, and I could probably read it weekly and never get enough of it. Thanks for pushing me, Cara!!

    1. And thank YOU for pushing me to read it in print form! My book club mate said the exact same thing, so even though it was powerful to hear her voice, I think it’s going to be even more powerful to see it in print. 🙂

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com


    1. Easy yet deep: absolutely. I really liked “reading” it on Audible but have been told by numerous people that I’ve got to see it in print form. Done.

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com


  2. I loved this book! I was skeptical about how a memoir could be told through free verse but it was beautiful and still followed a linear narrative. I liked seeing the civil rights movement through the eyes of a child. I loved her stories about her friend Maria and experiencing new food and cultures together as best friends. But I think my favorite aspect was watching her fall in love with words, not just as a reader but as a writer, growing in her own voice and finding that she has a voice worth listening to. It was powerful. Great find, and I never would have picked this on my own. So thank you for hosting this month’s discussion!

    1. Yes. yes, yes, yes. Such a powerful read learning about history through the lens of a child. Question: did you read it in print or via audio book? I’m thinking I’m going to have to read it in print! Can’t wait to discuss it in person in a couple of weekS!

      1. I read it in print. My mind wanders too much when listening to audio books. The book was thicker than I expected, but each chapter is so short that it went really quickly. I enjoyed savoring the free verse and the breaks in the lines. I’m curious how they did that on the audio. It was definitely a book that was both visually beautiful as well as verbally beautiful. (Completely random: I felt the same way about Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. It was such an aesthetically enjoyable book, besides being hilarious.)

        1. Oh yes: I was SO glad to read Amy Poehler’s in print! The author read her book, which was definite bonus, so I loved hearing her voice and how she’d tell the story. That was definitely a bonus of hearing it.

          Cara Meredith

          writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com


  3. Though I had a tough time at first reading the poetry style writing, it really began to build a beautiful image of how she became the person she is and how she became a writer. I loved the part when she was singing the song she wrote and her sister said that she couldn’t have written it because it was “too good”. That made me smile! The most thought provoking line for me was “Be ready to die, my grandfather says, for everything you believe in.”

    Thanks so much for recommending this book, I really enjoyed it!

    1. Kerri, I too loved her journey into writing – that was particularly encouraging to me. And I think I have to read it in print now so I can really see and remember all the words and phrasing!

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