I had heard about this book from just about every blogger I follow. How it was the must read of the summer (even though it wasn’t even out), how this would win awards (and it sure has). And yet, it came to my classroom and sat on the shelf. I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up for over a month. Something about the cover, perhaps, or my own frame of mind. Then one day I remembered just how much I love Jacqueline Woodson. Her book Each Kindness is a staple every year for me (which is probably why it has disappeared from my classroom). So why not read this one?
As the story often goes; I started it and then I finished it. All within two days. All within the same time frame as parent-teacher conferences. Yup, this book made me stay up and read after 13 hours days. That’s how good it is. Why is it so good? I don’t really know. Her voice, her story, the images that came to my mind as I connected the lines between her story and America’s story. But even though I loved it, I had an incredibly hard time envisioning which student I would hand it to, not sure where it belongs. But it fit right into my heart. It fit right into everything I believe is great about books.
So bottomline: Yes, add it to your classroom library. 5th grade and up or perhaps even younger. Share it with your students and hope that someone else gets it just like you got it.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow 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. 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. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading 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.