I love to read books by authors of color. Even more than that, I love to read books by authors of color ABOUT children of color! To be sure, a nice historical fiction book is ok, but why not make The Hunger Games main character a girl of color. Any color?
But I digress. One of the authors I enjoy is Jacqueline Woodson.
I accidentally ran into her at a posh BEA party last year. I reckon she doesn’t get recognized too much so I was all like OMG Can I have a pic???? As you can see, she wasn’t too keen on me but whatever. I LOVE her.
She’s the kind of author who writes for kids who want to use their brains. Kids will use their brains if you give them something that meets their interest. I found a picture book about bullying of hers last year that made me weep. WEEP. It’s called Each Kindness.
A new girl comes to school and tries to make friends. When Chloe, the narrator, is unkind, the girl keeps trying. And then the girl is gone and Chloe is left only with the memory of her unkindness.
See? Kids GET this stuff. They realize sometimes belatedly what they should have done differently. And maybe next time they’ll get it right. This title speaks to everyone.
The crazy thing about Woodson is that she’s written TONS of books for kids of all ages and many of them are award winners. Probably you’ve heard of Hush.
When she is twelve, Toswiah and her older sister Cameron have to leave the place they’ve always known, change their identities and leave no trace of their past life. Toswiah becomes Evie. Her sister becomes Anna. In the new city, they have to reinvent themselves and figure out how to move on when just about everything they ever loved is behind them.
I could go on and on. I recently snagged an advanced copy of her latest book, which happens to be an autobiography, called Brown Girl Dreaming. It’s an autobiography written in verse. It incorporates elements of what was going on in the civil rights movement when she was born and growing up. It’s compelling. I can’t wait to finish it.
If you’ve not heard of Jacqueline Woodson, add her to your repertoire. It’s smart reading.