I first came to know her work when I read Locomotion, a novel written in verse written in the voice of eleven year old Lonnie. Every poem is so touching that I couldn't stop thinking about Lonnie and all the sadness he experienced at such a young age. I love how a fifth grade poetry assignment helped him find his voice and gave him a way to tell his story.
A few years ago, I used Miracle's Boys in my reading class with a group of eighth grade boys. They told me it was the best book we read all year. Like many of Jacqueline Woodson's books, this story of three brothers is heartbreaking yet hopeful.
I just finished reading her memoir-in-verse, Brown Girl Dreaming. I loved reading about her childhood and discovering her voice as a writer. She and I are from the same generation so the songs and events mentioned in the poems brought back memories of my own childhood. You can read an excerpt from Brown Girl Dreaming on the NPR blog, and learn more about how Jacqueline came to poetry. Another connection I share with Jacqueline is that Langston Hughes is the poet who led her to love poetry. I believe readers of all ages will identify with her story.
In addition to novels, Jacqueline Woodson also writes picture books. My favorite is Each Kindness, the story of a young girl who is unkind to the new girl in her class. . I see this scenario play out all the time at school, and it's heartbreaking. I read it to my sixth grade students, and many of them shared their own experiences of being treated unkind. A few of them even shared their regrets over treating someone or something unkind.
There are still a few of Jacqueline Woodson's books I haven't read, but I plan on changing that! If you're looking for realistic fiction with characters so believable, you'll worry about them, Jacqueline is the author for you! Just be sure to have a box of tissue nearby. : )
This is just a brief overview for a few of Jacqueline Woodson's titles. Check out her website to learn more.
Keri at Keri Recommends is hosting Poetry Friday this week.