Jacqueline Woodson tackles tough issues head-on: race relations, foster care, and incarceration are just some of the issues that her characters confront. In the hands of such a skilled writer, however, readers trust that these sensitive and difficult topics will be handled realistically yet with the knowledge that hope will remain. (Please note the books that are more appropriate for kids ages 9–12)
For more mature books by Jacqueline Woodson, visit our sister site, AdLit.org.
Brown Girl Dreaming
The early years of a girl who grows into a writer has been recreated from family stories combined with memory and presented in verse. Born in February 1963 in Ohio, Woodson's family soon moves to the South during turbulent years. The history of the writer, her family and a nation combine in rich, metaphorical language.
Coming on Home Soon
When Ada Ruth's mother goes to Chicago for a much-needed job during World War II, Ada Ruth stays with her grandmother in Grandma's rural home. Being apart is tough even though Ada Ruth knows it is in response to the war. Words and illustration combine to present a stirring portrait of longing, family, and love until mother and child are reunited.
Narrator Frannie keenly observes the changing dynamics in her classroom when a new white student arrives. Frannie also frets about her family — her deaf brother isolated from the hearing world and her pregnant mother prone to miscarriages.
Disguised as boys, Lena and her sister Dion flee their father's abuse. They hitchhike to their mother's hometown in Kentucky in hopes of finding a relative to care for them.
Lonnie, aka Locomotion (first introduced in Locomotion) tries to connect with his sister and to prevent forgetting their "real" parents. As he writes Lili, readers learn about his life including his foster brother who has returned from the Iraq war.
Soonie's great grandmother was only seven-years-old when sold to the big plantation. A quilt that showed the way to freedom and chronicled the family's history connects the generations, and continues to do so. Idealized illustrations and the poetic text provide an unusual family story.
The Other Side
Clover and Annie — one black, the other white — are separated by a fence and attitudes that want to prevent their friendship.
A girl and her grandmother prepare to visit the girl's father by packing a big lunch then boarding a bus. The joyful reunion takes place in a prison, emphasizing the love between a father and his daughter. Notes from both the author and illustrator complete this book.
We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past
Teeka has a sharp eye as she describes each member of the family that joins the picnic in the park while waiting to see if the aunt with the dried out pie arrives. Lively language and animated, colorful illustrations make this picnic jump off the page.
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