Guide

Teaching Brown Girl Dreaming

Teach a unit on Jacqueline Woodson's coming-of-age memoir in verse that invites students to reflect on their own experiences and identities.
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At a Glance

Guide

Language

English — US

Subject

  • English & Language Arts
  • Culture & Identity

Jacqueline Woodson opens Brown Girl Dreaming with a poem about her birth on February 12, 1963, in “a country caught / / between Black and White.” In this coming-of-age memoir in verse, Woodson—who was raised in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York by her mother and grandparents—invites readers to consider what it means to be from a place but not fully belong there, as well as the ways in which family and memory can shape our identities and beliefs as we grow up. 

Over the course of this literature unit, students revisit the following essential questions in order to reflect on their own coming-of-age experiences in light of the many complex factors that influence their identities and choices: 

  • What individuals and experiences have shaped my beliefs about myself and the world around me? 
  • How is each one of us connected to the past? How does history and the legacy of past generations influence who I am today?
  • How do the acts of reading, writing, and storytelling impact the way I understand myself and make sense of the world around me?

This guide includes the following resources:

  • Unit essential questions and Facing History learning objectives and outcomes
  • Guiding questions, classroom activities, and formative assessments for each section of the memoir
  • Text-based discussion questions, supplemental readings, and handouts (PDF and Google Doc)
  • Three summative assessment options
Cover of "Teaching Brown Girl Dreaming," a resource from Facing History and Ourselves
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Teaching Brown Girl Dreaming

Date of Publication: December 2021

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Using the strategies from Facing History is almost like an awakening.
— Claudia Bautista, Santa Monica, Calif