MMGM (12/2/2019): Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (plus the 2019 Holiday Book Giveaway!)

For MMGM, I have a review of Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I am also holding the 2019 Holiday Book Giveaway; information is at the bottom of this post.

         I really don't know how to describe this book in a way that does it justice, so I'm starting with the publisher's description (I know the font is all weird—sorry!).


Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Winner

Jacqueline Woodson, the acclaimed author of 
Another Brooklyn, 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. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
A National Book Award Winner
A Newbery Honor Book

A Coretta Scott King Award Winner


          If you aren't already swayed by the National Book Award, the Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Award, and Jacqueline Woodson's position as the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, then read on. Brown Girl Dreaming is one of the best books I have ever read. A memoir written in free verse, it is different from other books in that it does not simply spotlight a particular point in a character's life. Brown Girl Dreaming instead takes on the complex task of illustrating and exploring Woodson's entire childhood and how it shaped who she is today. It is astounding how many topics Woodson fleshes out in this book: segregation during the time of the civil rights movement and how it affected her as a child, the significance of family and the lessons and joys that family can provide, the effects of religion and Woodson's Jehovah's-witness upbringing on her perspective on life, the different ways that children can grow and develop, the journey from struggling in school with apparent dyslexia to becoming an award-winning author, and more.
          Brown Girl Dreaming is filled with some of the most beautiful poems I have ever read. More than just prose split into lines, these poems pull the reader along with pauses, repetition, and a wonderful rhythm. Each poem is its own world, whether that world features dancing to the radio, playing outside, listening to stories, or writing them. Unlike many books, which put their characters in unique and sometimes unrealistic situations to get readers' attention, Brown Girl Dreaming attracts readers' attention simply by reminding readers of the wonders and beauty of everyday life. If you ever feel like there is something missing in life, read this book.
          Brown Girl Dreaming is a book that any reader will both relate to and learn from. This book taught me so much about what it was like being an African-American in the segregated South during the civil rights movement, balancing the need to join the movement and fight for equal rights with the need to live in one's own city without inciting violence and hatred against oneself. I could also relate to many different aspects of Woodson's life; several poems about noticing the strengths and powers of her siblings stood out to me (that has become a theme in my life for the last few months). As I become older, I absolutely expect to find even more beauty in Brown Girl Dreaming, because it depicts the lives of Woodson's family with as much tact and thoughtfulness as it depicts Woodson's own.
          I cannot recommend Brown Girl Dreaming enough. It shows readers the beauty in everyday life, it has something for every single reader to enjoy, and it illustrates another time period vividly. Young children, middle-graders, teenagers, and adults from their twenties to their nineties and beyond will all find Brown Girl Dreaming as beautiful, as impactful, and as thoughtful as I did!

Update (1/2/2021): My rating is: Stunning!

          And now for the giveaway! For the 2019 Holiday Book Giveaway, I am giving away two items. I have recently been reading Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo. It is an absolutely spectacular book, and I plan to recommend it wholeheartedly next week. The book is a sequel to a previous book by DiCamillo, Raymie Nightingale (my review is here), and there is a third book in the series called Beverly, Right Here (Raymie, Louisiana, and Beverly are all characters in the first book). When I was at Barnes & Noble recently, I was thrilled to find a boxed set of the three books! The set, which I am giving away, is called The Raymie Nightingale Three-Book Collection, and it features the hardcover editions of Louisiana's Way Home and Beverly, Right Here, as well as a new hardcover edition of Raymie Nightingale with what seems to be an exclusive cover that matches the beautiful covers of the sequels (the image at left features this cover). This boxed set is not signed; I am just giving it away because I thought it was awesome. The set also features a note from the author.
          The other item that I am giving away is a signed hardcover copy of The Inquisitor's Tale, a Newbery Honor book by Adam Gidwitz with illustrations by Hatem Aly. I meant to give this book away some time ago, but it just recently resurfaced in my bookshelves, so here it is now! To be clear, the book is signed by author Adam Gidwitz, not illustrator Hatem Aly. You can read about this book on the publisher's page for it here.
          Here are the terms of the giveaway:

  • Enter using the Google Form below, NOT the comments.

  • You must enter an email address so that I can contact you via email for a mailing address if you win. I will not keep or share your email address.
    • Please, please, PLEASE give me an email address that you check regularly (including spam/junk), as I will choose a new winner if you do not respond within 48 hours (which I have unfortunately had to do during several giveaways).
  • You must also enter a nickname for me to post on my blog if you win; it does not need to be your real name (although it can be if you want).
  • The last full day to enter this giveaway is Wednesday, December 11, 2019, as I will close the form the morning of Thursday, December 12, 2019.
  • You can only win one of the two items in the giveaway. To help ensure that you get the item you want, I have allowed you to indicate which item is your first choice and which item is your second choice. If you are not interested in an item, please choose the "Not interested" option so that you will not be entered in the item's drawing and someone else can win the item.
  • If you respond promptly to my email asking for a mailing address, I will be able to ship your item to you so that it should arrive before Christmas.
Enter below!


  1. Thanks for the post. Plenty of interesting things to read here.

  2. I loved Brown Girl Dreaming and your review makes me want to revisit the pages. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. Very generous and great choices!

    1. I'm glad you liked Brown Girl Dreaming, and thanks about the giveaway!

  3. The thing that I found most interesting about Brown Girl Dreaming was the issue with lead paint. I remember this being a huge concern when I was growing up, but never knew anyone affected by it.

    1. It was a very interesting issue—I knew lead paint was dangerous, but it had never really occurred to me how much it had harmed people before it was banned. Thanks for reading my post!

  4. I never heard of this book, but it sounds great. Thanks for sharing it!

  5. I have read so much about Jacqueline Woodson and her books that I think maybe it's time for me to check out her work! I'm adding this one to my 2020 TBR list right now. Thanks for the generous giveaways, too. :0}

  6. I loved Brown Girl Dreaming. Each word so carefully chosen. Woodson is a master of free verse.
    Also read two of the Raymie Nightingale series. Loved it and need to read the first book. I am not familiar with The Inquisitor's Tale and will check it out. Thank you for your thoughtful giveaways.


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