Your task is to read the award-winning memoir brown girl dreaming and participate in discussion:
The author of many books, Jacqueline Woodson writes mostly for young adults, producing what’s called YA literature. In brown girl dreaming she tells her life story in verse. In other words, instead of writing her life story in prose, organized into chapters, Woodson wrote poems and arranged them into five parts:
· i am born
· the stories of south carolina run like rivers
· followed the sky’s mirrored constellation to freedom
· deep in my heart, i do believe
· ready to change the world
Woodson ends her memoir with family photos, many of which inspired the poems. The people in the photos are also on the family tree, presented at the beginning of the book. (Note that David F. Walker also included a portrait gallery in his biography of Frederick Douglass.)
Poetry is meant to be read aloud, just as plays are written in order to be performed. I kept this idea in mind as I designed this reading activity.
As you browse Woodson’s memoir, imagine that you have been asked to return to your high school and give a poetry reading to the freshmen class. Each returning student will be highlighting a National Book Award Winner, and you have chosen brown girl dreaming.
You have time to read two poems from each of the five parts, for a total of ten poems. Your choices are guided by the following goals:
· to challenge assumptions the students might have about poetry
· to provoke a visceral response from the students, to get them to react as an audience
· to prompt personal reflection/introspection on the part of the students
· to captivate and hold the students’ attention
· to demonstrate that personal experiences often have political or social dimensions
Which ten poems would you read to the high school students?
When you have made your selections, you will be ready to post to the discussion board. List the titles for all 10 and then focus your attention on the goals stated above. Explain how you will accomplish these goals with whatever combination of poems you have selected.
For example, my lesson plan might include “daddy this time,” from Part IV. This poem is packed with imagery as Woodson describes caring for her dying grandfather: “I tiptoe in with chicken soup, sit on the edge of the bed and try to get him to take small sips.” The repetition of the “t” and “s” sounds gives the poem a sing-song quality, and sure enough, it ends with the grandfather asking her to sing and him saying she is “perfect.”
I think this poem would help me accomplish the goal of challenging assumptions about poetry because most people think good poetry is supposed to be inscrutable (hard to understand), but “daddy this time” conveys powerful emotions in a simple, uncomplicated way. This poem might also prompt reflection, as many students have close relationships with their grandparents and might even have been raised by them.
So one poem helped me accomplish two goals. What’s left is for me to explain how I will accomplish the other three goals. This will require me to discuss at least one and probably two or three more poems from my list of 10. Notice that although I chose 10, I did not discuss all 10 of them in my post.
Brown Girl Dreaming PDF Book
Woodson talks about Brown Girl Dreaming