FEBRUARY 12: Jacqueline Woodson (1963-)


Anyone attended AWP in DC this week? We sure did, and guess who headlined the event: Jacqueline Woodson. (We know. We were fangirling too.)


Writer extraordinaire, Woodson was born in Ohio and from very early on, loved nothing more than writing. She’s written literary fiction, as well as middle-grade and young adult novels and poetry, and explores issues of gender, sexuality, and race – among others – in her works with a great sense of nuance and love. She understands the specific need to write books for teenagers, as she explained in an interview with NPR:

I’m writing about adolescents for adolescents. And I think the main
difference is when you’re writing to a particular age group, especially a
younger age group, you’re — the writing can’t be as implicit. You’re
more in the moment. They don’t have the adult experience from which to
look back. So you’re in the moment of being an adolescent…and the
immediacy and the urgency is very much on the page, because that’s what
it feels like to be an adolescent. Everything is so important, so big,
so traumatic. And all of that has to be in place for them.

This makes her undeniably a particularly relevant author for today’s young readers, but has also made her the target of censorship attacks. Still, her work has continually garnered high praise, and she is the recipient of several prestigious awards and honors. In 2015, the Poetry Foundation named her the Young People’s Poet Laureate. In 2005, she won the Margaret Edwards Award, and in 2014, the National Book Award in the Young People’s Literature category.

Woodson talks to a group of NYC schoolkids about her book Brown Girl Dreaming at the Strand bookstore.

Go read Another Brooklyn, her latest novel, as well as some of her most well-known works: Brown Girl Dreaming and Miracle’s Boys. Listen to an interview here, and watch here an amazing discussion between Jacqueline Woodson and Edwidge Danticat.

– AK