Recommendation Wednesday: Brown Girl Dreaming

Welcome back to Recommendation Wednesday, a feature that happens every other week, where I review a book that is not shelved as YA, but has excellent crossover appeal. Today I’ll be reviewing a middle-grade book, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, a book about growing up black in the 1960s-1970s that is still very relevant today.

My friend and I were recently were compiling a list of the best books by Black authors that we had read recently to share with our book club. I immediately thought of this book, one that I think has a very unique voice with both the experiences of the author and the writing style.

The line between YA and middle grade is always fuzzy. A lot of people read across the categories, even when their age is in the other or in neither of the categories. For example, fourteen is when most people think YA starts, but there aren’t a lot of books written for teenagers of that age, and many kids start reading YA earlier (like me for example, I started consiously reading YA at age twelve). So this book can definitely be read by YA readers, and even adults.

Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir in verse by Jacqueline Woodson, an author who writes for all ages, who is best known for her children’s books and books for younger readers. It follows her childhood growing up in both South Carolina and New York. It talks about her finding her writing voice and being a kid during the Civil Rights Movement.

I really like this book because it was written in poems. I didn’t know this when I picked it up, and it was a nice surprise. I always find that novels in verse allow authors to explore very complex and deep themes while being fast(er) reads.

This book is written in a way that is easy enough for kids aged ten-twelve (the categorical age range) to understand but is mature enough for older readers. I would recommend it to use to talk to kids about anitracism and inclusive/diverse literature. This should definitely be on your TBR pile!

Have you been reading other books with good YA crossover appeal? Let me know in the comments!


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