What to do when you are recuperating from a total knee replacement? You read. And of the books I read, the one that lingers with rich images and vivid story is Brown Girl Dreaming by bestselling author, Jacqueline Woodson. The book is a memoir in verse, written by a an African American about growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. Notably, it won the National Book Award, The Coretta Scott King Award and the Newberry Award.
Oh, no, not poetry, you might think. But Woodson’s verse is attainable. Each poem is a vignette of her childhood. We feel the red dust of the south, come to love her grandfather with her, and understand the impulse for writing that is her amazing gift.
Even though her story is of a young African American girl growing up in a country coming to grips with its own history, Woodson finds the common ground of identity, of friendship, and of needing to belong to a family and community that we all share which makes this book exceptional.
Read it out loud. Share it with your children and grandchildren. Help them understand racial diversity from this untainted and authentic memoir. Savor the words and images. Share Woodson’s story. Teach how our needs are common to all of us.
Most of all, enjoy Brown Girl Dreaming.