Reading for Change: Locomotion (week 1)

Gush, gush. 

My inner poet screams when I read the words of Jacqueline Woodson. It screamed last year with Brown Girl Dreamingand it screamed last week with Locomotionand it screamed two days later when I read the follow-up to the first, Peace, Locomotion

Now, hear me out: but for her newest read, Woodson is a children’s writer. Should you choose to read them as intended – aloud, as a piece of poetry – they might take you a couple of hours to get through; but if you just read them, it only takes the average reader a little over an hour to devour (or so says the reading tracker on Kindle).

Regardless, this time around, Woodson weaves the story of a young boy, Locomotion (short for Lonnie Collins Motion), who lost his parents in a fire, and finds himself in the New York state foster system. He misses his sister, who’s with another family, but as he begins to lean into life with his new mama and older brothers, he comes to life through poetry. 

Writers, after all, write about what they know – and Jacqueline Woodson knows poetry. I can see this being the perfect fit for a poetry unit in a middle grade classroom, but it’s also a cozy winter read.

Whatever it is for you, I’ve got three favorite lines of poetry for you:

Writing makes me remember.
It’s like my whole family comes back again
when I write. All of them right
here like somebody pushed the Rewind button

Was it a big sacrifice to give up your life
if you knew you was gonna rise back up?
I mean, isn’t that like just taking a nap?

This day is already putting all kinds of words
in your head
and breaking them up into lines
and making the lines into pictures in your mind
And in the pictures the people are
laughing and frowning and
eating and reading and
playing ball and skipping along and…

spinning themselves into poetry.

Like I said, gush, gush. Just as we all need to slow down with a little bit of poetry in our lives, we all need a little bit of Jacqueline Woodson’s storytelling ways in our lives.

Pick up Locomotion if you haven’t already. Give it a quick read-aloud and see if the kid in you comes alive once again.

Otherwise, whether you’re a blogger or a reader, leave a comment (with link to your review) in the section below. I can’t wait to read your thoughts! Up next week: The Death of RaceAnd people, it’s phenomenal.

Happy reading!

So, what’d you think? Locomotion: like it, love it, want some more of it? 

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