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IMWAYR: Brown Girl Dreaming

Monday Linky from Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers!

by Jacqueline Woodsen

I just finished this and it just wowed me.  It's written in narrative prose.  It's so powerful.  It's a collection of the author's own memories growing up in the 60's and 70's as an African American.  She has her feet in two worlds: New York City and South Carolina.  It details her thoughts about growing up in these places during the Civil Rights era.

I loved the section entitled The Other Woodsen which will resonate with anyone who had a brilliant older sibling and always came up short.

Another section I loved was:


I am not my sister. 
Words from the books 
   curl around each oth-
make little sense 
I read them again 
and again, the story 
settling into memory. 
   Too slow 
the teacher says. 
Read faster. 
Too babyish, 
the teacher says. 
Read older. 
But I don’t want to read 
   faster or older or 
any way else that might 
make the story disappear 
   too quickly from 
   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.

Woodson, Jacqueline (2014-08-28). Brown Girl Dreaming (Newbery Honor Book) (p. 226). Penguin Young Readers Group. Kindle Edition. 

How beautiful was that?  Something we need to remember this in the the age of reading levels.  Don't limit your kids.  We need to allow our students to read outside of their levels.  Sometimes they need to reconnect to those primary books that are so meaningful to them and sometimes they need to read older books because they are motivated.  Let them fly!

Thinking about Mentor texts?  Read this!!


I loved my friend. 

He went away from me. 
There’s nothing more to 
The poem ends, 
Soft as it began— I
 loved my friend. 
   —Langston Hughes 

   I love my friend 
and still do 
when we play games 
we laugh. I hope she 
   never goes away from 
   because I love my 
   —Jackie Woodson

Woodson, Jacqueline (2014-08-28). Brown Girl Dreaming (Newbery Honor Book) (p. 245). Penguin Young Readers Group. Kindle Edition. 

Isn't that the most powerful example of using a mentor text?  What a simple, beautiful way to show kids.

This book has won the John Newbery Honor Medal and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Fiction In YA and the National Book Award.  Here's her speech at the National Book Award.   All well deserved.  Congratulations, Ms. Woodsen on a triumph.

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