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Jacqueline Woodson

National Book Award and four-time Newbery Honor Winner, and bestselling author of Brown Girl Dreaming

  • About Jacqueline Woodson

    Jacqueline Woodson is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor Award, the NAACP Image Award, and the Sibert Honor Award. She is also the author of New York Times bestselling novel Another Brooklyn (Harper/Amistad), which was a 2016 National Book Award Finalist and Woodson’s first adult novel in twenty years. In 2015, Woodson was named Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a three-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Most recently, she was named the 2018 Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress. Woodson’s latest book is Harbor Me and the picture book The Day You Begin, both published in 2018. In 2019 she will publish Red at the Bone. 

  • Speaking Topics

    Brown Girl Dreaming

    Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. In this talk, she guides audiences through the vivid poems from her book, sharing what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow, her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement, and the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child.

    Behind the Books

    Jacqueline Woodson discusses her lifelong journey as a writer with humor and poise, revealing her own writing process and where she finds inspiration. As she reads passages from her diverse body of work, this rousing, interactive talk motivates Woodson's audiences—from students to educators to book lovers—to read, write, revise, and read some more.

  • Video

  • Praise for Jacqueline Woodson


    What a beautiful day Jacqueline shared with us. Audience members of all ages were the beneficiaries of her wisdom and compassion. Our hearts are full in the South right now.

    Presbyterian College

    Jacqueline Woodson was more than a speaker; she connected with every student in her audience. As she read her work and answered their burning questions, she held dozens of middle school students captive from start to finish. They’ll remember her visit for a lifetime.

    Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth

    Praise for Red at the Bone

    [A] remarkable and moving portrait of a family in a changing Brooklyn. . . There’s not a single unnecessary word.


    Woodson famously nails the adolescent voice. But so, too, she burnishes all her characters’ perspectives. . . In Woodson, at the height of her powers, readers hear the blues: ‘beneath that joy, such a sadness.’

    Kirkus, starred review

    Praise for The Day You Begin

    This gentle, powerful ode to diversity and acceptance belongs with all children.

    Shelf Awareness, starred review

    [T]his empathetic dive into childhood recognizes economic, social, racial and cultural diversity, celebrates similarities and differences, and promotes the goal of inclusion for all.

    The San Francisco Chronicle

    A beautiful and inclusive story that encourages children to find the beauty in their own lives and share it with the world. . . . Each child feels very alone until they begin to share their stories and discover that it is nearly always possible to find someone a little like you. López’s vibrant illustrations bring the characters’ hidden and unspoken thoughts to light with fantastic, swirling color. Shifting hues and textures across the page convey their deep loneliness and then slowly transition into bright hopeful possibilities. Full-bleed illustrations on every page are thick with collaged patterns and textures that pair perfectly with melodic prose that begs to be read aloud. . . . There’s an essential acknowledgment that everyone will experience a time when no one is quite like them, when they can’t find their voice, or when they feel very alone. Woodson’s superlative text sees each character turn that moment of desolation into an opportunity to be brave and find hope in what they have in common. This masterful story deserves a place in every library.

    School Library Journal, starred review

    A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride. . . . This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference. A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

    Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    Woodson’s poetic lines give power to each child’s experience. . . . López paints the book’s array of children as students in the same classroom; patterns and colors on the children’s clothing and the growing things around them fill the spreads with life. Woodson’s gentle, lilting story and López’s artistry create a stirring portrait of the courage it takes to be oneself.

    Publishers Weekly, starred review

    Woodson’s lyrical text is gently reassuring as it moves between broad discussion and specific examples of difference and discomfort, which emphasize children moving across cultures but will speak to children from all backgrounds and experiences. Mixed-media illustrations . . . combine bold with soft colors and textures in a slightly shaded tropical palette; compositions employ creative and insightful perspectives to suit the characters’ feelings. . . . The artist frequently incorporates a ruler into the illustrations, which perhaps speaks to the children’s perceptions of how they measure up to others. This lovely and sensitive treatment of adjustment deserves a spot in any collection for youngsters.

    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

    Woodson catches the uncertainty, even fear, that comes with new situations. But her lyrical language also captures the moment when confidence sparks and friendships are born. . . . The bold, bright artwork features a diverse cast of kids. . . The important message plays out in a striking design that mixes the everyday with flights of fancy. Woodson, a recent National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, is one of kidlit’s brightest stars, and this should find lots of eager hands.


    What will it take for a child who feels different to share her stories? . . . Like Woodson’s memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, this story places great value on literacy, reading, and imagination. The matte-finished pages feature illustrations in vivid, brilliant colors, with repeated appearances of flying birds and lush, twining vines and flowers.

    Horn Book

    Praise for Harbor Me

    Jacqueline Woodson's Harbor Me is a powerful love letter to effective teachers, unexpected friendship and the healing magic of hearing, recording and sharing words.

    Shelf Awareness, starred review

    Woodson delivers a powerful tale of community and mutual growth. The bond they develop is palpable. . . . The characters ring true as they discuss issues both personal and global. This story, told with exquisite language and clarity of narrative, is both heartbreaking and hopeful. An extraordinary and timely piece of writing.

    Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    The magic is in the writing. Woodson tells stories torn from headlines but personalizes them with poetry and memories, blunting their trauma with understanding and love. Haley’s history weaves in and out, drawing readers close. These children become each other’s safe harbors and Woodson brilliantly shows readers how to find the connections we all need.

    Booklist, starred review

    Woodson’s spare, lyrical, and evocative prose carries the story seamlessly, weaving in themes of justice and family, friendship and courage. This is a timely and beautifully written story that should be on library shelves everywhere.

    School Library Journal, starred review

    Praise for Another Brooklyn

    "... it is the personal encounters that form the gorgeous center of this intense, moving novel... [Another Brooklyn] unfolds as memory does, in burning flashes, thick with detail... Woodson brings the reader so close to her young characters that you can smell the bubble gum on their breath and feel their lips as they brush against your ear."

    The New York Times

    Another Brooklyn finds its poetry in what we project onto one another, in what we say to cover up the things we cannot say. It’s an elegant fever dream of a book, one that will haunt you after you finish it.


    In Jacqueline Woodson’s soaring choral poem of a novel…four young friends…navigate the perils of adolescence, mean streets, and haunted memory in 1970s Brooklyn, all while dreaming of escape.

    Vanity Fair

    An engrossing novel about friendship, race, the magic of place and the relentlessness of change.


    Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn is another kind of book, another kind of beautiful, lyrical, hallucinatory, heartbreaking and powerful novel. Every gorgeous page leads to another revelation, another poignant event, or memory. This is an incredible and memorable book.

    Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light

    Praise for Brown Girl Dreaming

    A sequence of revealing slices of life, redolent in sight, sound, and emotion. . . . Vivid. . . . A story of the ongoing weaving of a family tapestry, the following of an individual thread through a gorgeous larger fabric, with the tacit implication that we’re all traversing such rich landscapes. It will make young readers consider where their own threads are taking them.

    The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

    A memoir-in-verse so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. . . . The poetry here sings: specific, lyrical, and full of imagery. . . . An extraordinary—indeed brilliant—portrait of a writer as a young girl.

    The Horn Book (starred review)

    Mesmerizing journey. . . . Thoughtfully expressed in powerfully effective verse. . . . With exquisite metaphorical verse Woodson weaves a patchwork of her life experience . . . that covers readers with a warmth and sensitivity no child should miss.

    School Library Journal (starred review)


    Vanity Fair

    Moving and resonant . . . captivating.

    Wall Street Journal

    This is a book full of poems that cry out to be learned by heart.

    New York Times Book Review

    [Woodson’s] memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of Woodson’s preadolescent life into art. . . . Her mother cautions her not to write about her family but, happily, many years later, she has and the result is both elegant and eloquent, a haunting book about memory that is itself altogether memorable.

    Booklist (starred review)
  • Books by Jacqueline Woodson

  • Media About Jacqueline Woodson

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  • Jacqueline Woodson travels from Brooklyn, NY

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