Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming

Book Category: Title reflecting diversity
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Copyright: (2014) New York, NY
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Group
Suggested Grade Level: 5-6
Lexile Level: 990L
Accelerated Reader: 5.3
Suggested Delivery: Independent Read
Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Summary: This book is a memoir written by the author, Jacqueline Woodson. She tells the story about her life as an African American child, constantly traveling back and forth between the north and the south. Although Jackie and her family were faced with daily struggles and conflicts of racism and segregation, they never failed to remember what was most important to them, and that was family, hope, and God’s faith. Jackie and her family eventually moved to New York City and she decided to become a writer, a writer who still influences children and adults today of all races. Jackie stayed in New York to live a better life, become an excellent writer, and fulfill her dreams.
5 Key Words to Describe the Book: Inspirational, Diverse, Moving, Powerful, Hopeful
Electronic Resources:
  1. This website provides a couple of videos of the National Books Awards in 2014 when Jacqueline Woodson won the National Book Award for young people’s literature with this book. It also provides a brief summary of the book, where one can buy the book, and a biography about the author herself:
  2. This website provides a PDF of a teacher’s guide to this book. It includes various lessons, activities, discussions, and links that can be helpful for students and teachers:
  3. This website provides many helpful links and resources for teachers and students to learn more about the various perspectives about the topic of desegregation from this particular book:
Key Vocabulary:
  • Desegregation: the ending of a policy of racial segregation.
  • Memoir: a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources.
  • Jehovah’s Witness: a member of a Christian movement founded in the US by Charles Taze Russell; Jehovah’s Witnesses deny many traditional Christian doctrines and refuse military service and blood transfusion on religious grounds.
  • Autobiography: an account of a person’s life written by that person.
  • Civil Rights Movement: a struggle by African Americans in the mid-1950s to late 1960s to achieve Civil Rights equal to those of whites.
Teaching Suggestions:
  1. Before, During, After-
Before: Students will learn about memoirs. They will research the definition, the different components, and some different examples of a memoir. This will give them a better understanding of the type of book that they are about to read and why writing or reading a memoir can be so important and inspiring.
During: Students will close read “the ghosts of the Nelsonville house” on pages 10-12 from the book. They will find examples where the author describes a place or a person. Have the students take notes on the following questions that will be given to them on a piece of paper: What else is the author saying in these lines? What does she say explicitly, and what can you infer from the text? What techniques does she use to show us and what exactly is she showing (imagery, personification, line breaks)? How is this different from telling?
After: Students will complete an exit slip. They will free write for approximately 5-10 minutes about the difference between literal and inferential comprehension. Their responses should include evidence from the text. They should also include why it is important for a reader to be able to determine the difference between what the author directly says and what the reader must make inferences about.
  1. Writing Activity- Throughout the book, Jackie was constantly searching for her identity and on page 317, she stated, “I believe that there is good in each of us/no matter who we are or what we believe in.” What do your students believe and know to be true about their identities? Students should respond to this writing prompt and provide specific examples about themselves to justify their responses.
Teacher’s Guide:

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