Girl & Grown-up Book Club – Brown Girl Dreaming

3 min read

Our April book selection for girls in 4th and 5th grades is:

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson


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About the Book & Author

A memoir of childhood written in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming tells the story of growing up, becoming an artist, finding home, and being at home. This is the story of Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood, growing up splitting her time between her grandparents’ home in South Carolina and her mother’s home in New York City. Though she often feels torn by conflicting cultures, young Jackie’s long-reaching extended family gives her a feeling of deep belonging and a sense of who she is.

Jackie knows from an early age (even before she knows how to write) that she is a writer. From reverence for her first notebook to distributing her first bound book, we see the artist emerging and nurturing her creativity.

Jacqueline Woodson grew up in South Carolina and Brooklyn, where she lives now with her family. Her first book, Last Summer with Maizon, was published in 1990. She has written dozens of book for children of all ages, many of them award-winners and best sellers. In 2006, Ms Woodson received the Margaret A. Edwards Award lifetime award for her many (and continuing) contributions to the body of literature for teens. Ms Woodson is currently the Young People’s Poet Laureate, a two-year position awarded by the Poetry Foundation. You can learn more about her at her website or follow her on Twitter.

Published in 2014, Brown Girl Dreaming has earned a long list of awards, including the National Book Award, NAACP Image Award, Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Newbery Honor.

Buy, borrow, or download a copy of this book and read it before your next book club meeting.

The Girls Leadership Connection

Young Jackie gains feelings of joy and power from her writing. Putting her feelings and her life to paper gives her an opportunity to examine her feelings, and to express her opinions.

One way to express ourselves is through some form of creativity. Art gives us an outlet to articulate and work out complex feelings. When we share our creative work with others, we can change them, inspire them, and plant new ideas.

What would happen if you took time every day to be creative? I challenge you to do so. Even fifteen minutes. Don’t do it for your daughter (though it will do her good to see you doing this). Do it for you. After a few days, how does that feel? Have you struck that vein of vitality that only creativity can access? Have you learned how being creative can also help you be more you?

Learn More

Research tells us that creativity is important for all of us, at any age. One article from CNN states, “Creating helps make people happier, less anxious, more resilient and better equipped to problem-solve in the face of hardship.”

You don’t have to be good at art to reap the rewards. You don’t even have to share it. Play around with different forms of creativity – playing music, drawing, writing, sand painting, dancing, clowning! I recently met the most joyful person who makes intricate flowers out of paper restaurant napkins, then gives them away. I’ve read the work of a poet who creates poems from newspaper articles by strategically blacking out most of the words. There aren’t any rules to what you can do, or how to do it. As you experiment, notice what makes you smile, what ignites your joy. Do more of that.

You can help your child explore her self-expression through creativity, too. Visit a craft store or the craft aisle at the grocery store, pick up a sketchbook and some colored pencils, a special notebook, or a disposable camera. The next time there’s a school holiday, consider collecting materials for a large project. Thrift stores are good places to check for used instruments, puzzles, and odds and ends like buttons, tiles, fabric, and photos. At one secondhand shop, I happened upon a beautiful bowl full of black and white photos. They were just calling out to be used in someone’s art! Inspiration is everywhere.

For a great book about creativity (written for adults), check out Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.

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