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Children's Books--Content Area Themes and Topics

Author Spotlight

Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is the celebrated author of more than thirty titles from picturebooks to middle-grade and young adult novels. She has received numerous accolades including multiple Coretta Scott King Author Awards, a National Book Award, a Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor, and multiple John Newbery Honors. Woodson has also received several awards for the body of her work, including the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award, and the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award. Woodson is not afraid to embrace issues that some writers might consider too risky in ways that are always nuanced, sensitive, and hopeful including racism, classism, incest, incarceration, death, and abandonment.

From: Bishop, R. S. (2020). Invited Dialogue: An Invited dialogue with Jacqueline Woodson. Language Arts, 98(1), 31–35.

Photo by: Tiffany A. Bloomfield

MacArthur Fellow interview with Jacqueline Woodson

“But I don’t want to read faster or older or


any way else that might
 

make the story disappear too quickly from where 
it’s settling


inside my brain,


slowly becoming


a part of me.


A story I will remember


long after I’ve read it for the second, third,


tenth, hundredth time.”-Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming

Jacqueline Woodson 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.

This Is the Rope

The story of one family's journey north during the Great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family's history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother. Newbery Honor-winning author Jacqueline Woodson and Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator James Ransome use the rope to frame a thoughtful and moving story as readers follow the little girl's journey. During the time of the Great Migration, millions of African American families relocated from the South, seeking better opportunities. With grace and poignancy, Woodson's lilting storytelling and Ransome's masterful oil paintings of country and city life tell a rich story of a family adapting to change as they hold on to the past and embrace the future.

After Tupac and d Foster

A Newbery Honor Book The day D Foster enters Neeka and her best friend's lives, the world opens up for them. Suddenly they're keenly aware of things beyond their block in Queens, things that are happening in the world--like the shooting of Tupac Shakur--and in search of their Big Purpose in life. When--all too soon--D's mom swoops in to reclaim her, and Tupac dies, they are left with a sense of how quickly things can change and how even all-too-brief connections can touch deeply.

Pecan Pie Baby

Gia is tired of hearing about the new baby. It hasn't even been born yet, but everyone, even her friends, seem fixated on it. Gia thinks things are fine just the way they are! And she's worried: if the baby's such a big deal now, what's going to happen to Gia's nice, cozy life with Mama once it's born?

Feathers

Frannie hasn't thought much about hope. There are so many other things to think about. Each day, her friend Samantha seems a bit more "holy." There is a new boy in class everyone is calling the Jesus Boy. And although the new boy looks like a white kid, he says he's not white. Who is he? During a winter full of surprises, good and bad, Frannie starts seeing a lot of things in a new light--her brother Sean's deafness, her mother's fear, the class bully's anger, her best friend's faith and her own desire for "the thing with feathers."

The Other Side

Two girls, one white and one black strike up a friendship and get around the grown-ups' rules by sitting on top of the fence together.

Hush

Evie Thomas is not who she used to be. Once she had a best friend, a happy home and a loving grandmother living nearby. Once her name was Toswiah. Now, everything is different. Her family has been forced to move to a new place and change their identities. But that's not all that has changed. Her once lively father has become depressed and quiet. Her mother leaves teaching behind and clings to a new-found religion. And Evie, struggling to find her way in a new city where kids aren't friendly and the terrain is as unfamiliar as her name, wonders who she is.

The Day You Begin

Featured in its own episode in the Netflix original show Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices! National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone. There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson's lyrical text and Rafael López's dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. (This book is also available in Spanish, as El Día En Que Descubres Quién Eres!)

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Classification Number Contents
PZ 7 Fiction by authors whose first works were published between 1870 and 2014
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PZ 5  Collections of works by different authors
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