ALLen Reads 2017

Main Book

Brown Girl Dreamingbrown girl dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

In vivid poems, Woodson shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow laws and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world and joyfully finds her voice through writing stories, even as she struggled to read as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become. Recommended for Grade 5- Adult.

ALLen Reads is looking forward to discussions of the many themes that arise from Woodson’s work:

We all have a story

Find your gifts

Celebrate diversity

Accept differences

What good can I do?

Meet challenges and move past them


Love and Family

Home – what is home? where is home?

We hope you will enjoy the conversations and insights these bring forward in your neighborhood book clubs, at the library and talking with friends. Would you like a place to begin your conversation? Take a look at these Discussion Questions, brown girl dreaming.

Companion Books

Each KindnessEach Kindness
by Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by E. B. White

Each kindness makes the world a little better.

Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually, Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya. Recommended for Grades 3-4.

Let’s discuss! After reading the book, you may want to use these Talking Points, Each Kindness.


the other sideThe Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by E. B. White

Clover’s mom says it isn’t safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. However, the two girls strike up a friendship and get around the grown-ups’ rules by sitting on top of the fence together.  Parents will recognize the symbolism of the fence between the yards.  Children will love the story of how a new friendship is built and the beauty of the watercolors illustrations. Recommended for Grades K-2.

Need ideas for discussion? Take a look at Talking Points, The Other Side.

About the Author and Illustrator

Jacqueline WoodsonAuthor
Jacqueline Woodson

“I used to say I’d be a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing.

Lots and lots of books later, I am still surprised when I walk into a bookstore and see my name on a book or when the phone rings and someone on the other end is telling me I’ve just won an award. Sometimes, when I’m sitting at my desk for long hours and nothing’s coming to me, I remember my fifth grade teacher, the way her eyes lit up when she said “This is really good.” The way, I — the skinny girl in the back of the classroom who was always getting into trouble for talking or missed homework assignments — sat up a little straighter, folded my hands on the desks, smiled and began to believe in me.”

Growing up in South Carolina and New York, Jacqueline Woodson lived in two very different worlds. This is reflected in her stories, which address universal questions, such as “Who am I?” “Where do I belong?”  “What shall I do with my life? ”

For her children and young adult books, she has earned many awards which include three Newbery Honors, a Coretta Scott King Award and three Coretta Scott King Honors, two National Book Awards, a Margaret A. Edwards Award and an ALAN Award—both for Lifetime Achievement in YA Literature. Currently, she is the author of more than two dozen books for children and young adults.  She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.


EB LewisIllustrator
E.B. Lewis

Born in Philadelphia, PA, E.B. Lewis was inspired by two artist uncles. As early as the third grade, Lewis displayed artistic promise. Lewis attended the Temple University Tyler School of Art. There, he discovered his medium of preference was watercolor. After graduating, he taught art in public schools for twelve years. Presently, Lewis teaches at the University of Arts in Philadelphia, continues to paint and illustrate and is a member of The Society of Illustrators in New York City.

Mr. Lewis’s work has been described by reviewers as: extraordinarily accomplished, authentic, luminous, unforgettable, eye-catching, evocative, and exquisite… His ability to interpret the human experience allows his illustrations to work fluidly across different periods in history, depicting them with poignancy and depth for young readers… What truly distinguishes E.B. Lewis’s work is his ability to use the medium of watercolor to evoke emotional response across picture book genres… In diverse settings, through diverse characters, and embedded in diverse experiences, E.B. Lewis offers us his lens on the landscape of human emotions. As we, as a society, work toward greater inclusivity and connection, this perspective on our common humanity is truly a powerful offering.” – Erika Thulin Dawes, Ed.D. Associate Professor of Language and Literacy, Lesley University

E. B. Lewis has written and/or illustrated over 70 books. His outstanding illustrations and fine art are displayed at galleries around the country. In 2003, The Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota purchased a collection of original watercolors from Lewis’ first twenty-five children’s books. His awards include a Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrators in 2003, the Caldecott Medal in 2005, and the 2006 Charlotte Zolotow Award for his illustrations of My Best Friend by Mary Ann Rodman. Lewis is currently a resident of Folsom, New Jersey.

To learn more about this award-winning artistrator, visit E. B.’s website at eblewis,com