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
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Teaching Brown Girl Dreaming
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Through using free-verse poetry, the author shares her childhood memories of growing up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement.
Students reflect on how aspects of their identities are more visible or felt in certain situations and read an informational text to help them consider the interplay between individual identity and social identity.