KDL Reads is community reading event centered on the book Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. We hope KDL Reads inspires community members of all ages to:
- Read this book
- Explore their own cultural heritage and family experiences
- Engage with others about those experiences, and
- Create something personally meaningful
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a powerful memoir told in verse that chronicles Woodson’s coming of age amid the backdrop of the turbulent 1960s. Woodson finds her voice and tells her story through beautifully rendered poems that are steeped in memory and rich in family ties.
Here's an audio sample of Woodson reading her book:
Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper is the Preschool Companion Read. When Max leaves his grandfather’s house, the moon follows him all the way home, just like his Grandpa said it would. This title was selected because it embodies the theme of family (Woodson’s own grandfather plays a prominent part in her story) and is simple enough to share with preschoolers.
We've also put together several KDL Reads book lists:
Brown Girl Dreaming discussion questions
- Why does Jaqueline tell her story in verse? Did you enjoy reading a memoir in this style?
- Read your favorite passage aloud. Does this change how you experience the selection?
- How did each of the places Jacqueline lived color her dreams? If she had grown up in Grand Rapids during the 1960s and 1970s, do you think her dreams would be different?
- Why did finding the library book Stevie by John Steptoe move the author? Have you ever had an experience like this with a book?
- Jacqueline has many vivid memories of times with her family, who do you feel influenced her the most and why?
- While writing the book, she also consulted with her aunt Ada to learn more about her family’s history. How does an understanding of family genealogy contribute to her identity? What about your family? Are there individuals you’ve never met that you identify closely with?
- Discuss the title. How many of Jacqueline’s dreams have come true? How does the work of the Civil Rights Movement continue today?
Brown Girl Dreaming
Memoir versus Prose ― Consider why Woodson chose to write her memoir in verse to tell the stories of her childhood. Invite your students to compare and contrast the two literary mediums.
Dreams — What does it mean to hold fast to dreams? Do your students have dreams for a better world, a bright future or peace? Have them write down their dreams and create a classroom collage.
1963 ― The book opens with references to sit-ins, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X and Ruby Bridges. Research these stories with your students. How are things different now from when Woodson grew up in the 1960s in terms of race
The Impact of Place ― Woodson was born in Ohio, then moved to South Carolina, and finally settled in Brooklyn, New York. How did each place shape her story? How was each place different? Invite your students to talk about where they live. Have
they moved a lot? How has that shaped them?
Family and Friendship ― Throughout her memoir, we come to realize that Woodson’s family may, in many ways be like our own, with moments of fierce loyalty and great conflict. Invite students to connect with their own family roots and the stories current generations or from long past may tell.
Max and the Tag-Along Moon
Picture books are for everyone! This book can be enjoyed by any age. Older kids who are reading Brown Girl Dreaming can compare the two books and look for similarities in the message such as the warmth of family ties and the constancy of love.
Buddy up! The upper grades can share this book with the younger grades, or even preschoolers.
Read more books by Floyd Cooper: Share other books by Floyd Cooper with your students and use them as a springboard for further learning and discussion about black history.
Family: One of the prominent themes in Max and the Tag-Along Moon is the importance of family. Invite students to connect with their own family roots by making a family tree and interviewing relatives.
Make a class moon collage:
(1) sheet of white poster board
(1) sheet of black poster board
(1) set of oil pastels (optional) or crayons
Small pieces of white paper (8.5 x 11 cut in quarters)
- Give each student a small piece of white paper and invite them to draw something or someone they love with the oil pastels or crayons to be added to the collage. Cluster the artwork in the center of the white poster board.
- Now cut a large circle shape out of the black poster board and place it over the pictures to create your moon. Decorate the black with star shapes. Trace the moon with white chalk to give it a fuzzy affect.