Four-time Newbery Honor Author Jacqueline Woodson

Wow! What a week for children's literature. My heart is happy for many of my favorite books and authors. 

For the second year in a row, I asked the Newbery winners to answer the same two questions and finish the same sentence starter. First up is the incomparable Jacqueline Woodson. 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson | Newbery Honor | Nancy Paulsen Books 

Mr. Schu: Everyone loves hearing about THE CALL. What ran through your head when the phone rang? What were you thinking about when the Newbery committee was clapping?

Jacqueline Woodson: So --as you know, this wasn't the first time I got the call from a Newbery Committee.  Even from my landline, there always seems to be a bit of a delay so when I picked up the phone and said Hello, there was nothing for a while. I kept going "Hello?  Hello?" and my son is in the background saying "Just hang up. It's nobody."  Then I heard a man's voice (Randall Enos?) say it's the Newbery Committee and my heart took a leap.  I had gotten a total shocker of a call from Debbie Taylor the night before about the Sibert.  I knew this was the morning of calls coming so when I saw "unknown" on my phone, I was very hopeful.  I love hearing the clapping in the background - and the cheers.

Mr. Schu: What does the Newbery mean to you?

Jacqueline Woodson: Like the Coretta Scott King Award and the Pura Belpre, the Newbery means books getting into the hands of people that might not otherwise know about them.  Personally, getting it for Brown Girl Dreaming -- and again, remember this is now my 4th Newbery Honor -- it means that this particular book meant something deeply to the 2015 Newbery Committee.  That makes me proud.  It doesn't mean my work is finished though.  I love, love, love getting the call.  But at the end of the day -- as a writer who is committed to social justice and change --the award means I need to keep doing the work I was brought here to do.  The Newbery -- like the Coretta Scott King Award and now, the Sibert -- gives me an opportunity to be heard and read by more people.  And reminds me that I'm not doing this work alone.

Please finish this sentence starter: 

Reading is-- or should be a chance for people to find themselves and other worlds inside the pages of books.  Reading is -- or should be -- a basic human right.

Mr. Schu: Thank you, Jacqueline, and congratulations on Brown Girl Dreaming being named a Coretta Scott King Book Award winner, a Sibert Honor book, and a Newbery Honor book. Your book is a gift to the world. 

Borrow Brown Girl Dreaming from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.  


  1. I love the quote: "Reading is-- or should be a chance for people to find themselves and other worlds inside the pages of books. Reading is -- or should be -- a basic human right."

    I totally agree!

  2. Love this post Mr. Schu! As always, thanks for bringing so many wonderful authors and their great books to our attention. My TO READ list is as long as my arm and growing...

  3. Wow, 4?!!! Amazing! And so is Brown Girl Dreaming. I LOVE this book! Congrats, Jacqueline! :D


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