What is Brown Girl Dreaming about?

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Brown Girl Dreaming is an autobiographical account of Jacqueline Woodson's childhood. She writes stories of her childhood as free verse poems, using the fewest words possible to tell the story of what life was like for her family living in the South in the 1960s and 1970s. Woodson begins with her birth in Ohio in 1963, during the civil rights movement. She talks about being raised by her mother's family in South Carolina. She later moves to Brooklyn, New York, and she tells about feeling like she only half-belonged to each place. Throughout her poems, she reflects on her growing awareness of civil rights and women's rights, her immediate and extended family, her youth surrounded by the Jehovah's Witness religion, and her various communities. The poems also reflect on her discovery of her own writing abilities, which is a gradual process aided and encouraged by one of her teachers in Brooklyn who announces, "You're a writer," and sets the course of her life in that direction.

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