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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sharing enthusiasm and hope

“I couldn't be a writer without hope. I think I became a writer because I'm pretty optimistic.” – Jacqueline Woodson

Born this date in 1963, Woodson is one of the few writers to be named for multiple Newbery Honor Awards. Her four winners:  Brown Girl Dreaming, After Tupac and D Foster, Feathers, and Show Way   Also the recipient of the prestigious Margaret Edwards Award for her lifetime contribution as a children's writer, she was the 2014 U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award; winner of the National Book Award for Brown Girl Dreaming; and was recently selected to give the American Library Association’s 2017 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture, which recognizes significant contributions to children's literature.

Woodson also has earned major accolades for her Young Adult fiction, especially Miracle’s Boys, winner of the 2001 Coretta Scott King Award.  She is known for writing detailed physical landscapes and her focus on helping protagonists break through boundaries, whether they be social, economic, physical, sexual, or racial.  And as she notes in her quote above, she exudes optimism and dislikes books that do not offer hope.                                           
Growing up in two distinct settings – rural South Carolina and the heart of Brooklyn, NY -- Woodson said she has been influenced by the stories of both locales and by the stories of her family and their history.   She encourages writers to explore stories that their families might share.

“I realized if I didn't start talking to my relatives, asking questions, thinking back to my own beginnings, there would come a time when those people wouldn't be around to help me look back and remember,” she said.  [I wanted] to write about communities that were familiar to me and people that were familiar to me.”   Fertile ground for an amazing and still growing career.

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