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Brown Girl Dreaming

Last updated Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Date of Publication: 2014
ISBN: 0399252517
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2017

Synopsis: Jacqueline Woodson, the acclaimed author of Another Brooklyn, 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 Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child's soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson's eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Note to readers:
•  This story is about the authors life in the 1960's and 70's and is told in short poems.
•  The last few pages of the book have pictures of the author and her family.
•  Read the beginning poem by Langston Hughes to set the tone and read to page 31 which describes the segregated life of African Americans in the South.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What do you think the little girl is dreaming about?
•  What do you dream about?
•  Do you know where our parents, grandparents, great grandparents came from?


•  Gourds - type of fruits that have a hard shell and that are used for decoration
•  Constellation - group of stars that forms a particular shape in the sky and has been given a name
•  Emancipated - to free someone from someone else's control or power
•  Soapbox - often used figuratively to describe making speeches or expressing strong opinions
•  Parlor - a room in a house or apartment that is used for conversation or for spending time with guests
•  Embroidered - to sew a design on a piece of cloth

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Where does the first part of the story take place?
•  What do you know about the civil rights movement?
•  What stores have your parents or grandparents told you about how they grew up?
•  Have you ever lived anywhere else other than Los Angeles?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a Father's Day card.
•  Make a family tree. See pages before part 1 for examples.
•  Write a poem about an event in your life.
•  Check our craft ideas for June on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!