Jacqueline Woodson was born a watcher. An observer. Even as a young girl, she recognized that our stories are part of an enduring legacy that stretches far before and beyond our own lifetimes. Woodson is an icon in American literature, and author of works like “Brown Girl Dreaming,” “Red at the Bone,” and “Each Kindness.” Her voice has left an indelible mark on the literary landscape, and it was an honor to be in conversation with her.
In this episode, Jacqueline shares about the unexpected relationship with her siblings growing up, her sense of melancholy as a child, and how some of the earliest books she read gave her a deep sense of fairness and social justice. She reveals the book that most impacted her own writing (I didn’t see this one coming!), and the one thing that gives her hope, even in dark times.
Jacqueline has witnessed the evolution of literary spaces, especially publishing, over decades, and is herself a legendary voice in the industry. She has become a guiding force, pushing publishers, readers, and writers toward a more inclusive future, a future that features creators of the global majority. During our enlightening conversation, she reflects on the industry’s evolution throughout her career through the lens of a Black queer writer, and about setting the next generation up to carry on our stories and the stories that came before us.
For her reading challenge, Reading Black, Jacqueline has curated a list of books by Black authors, telling their brilliant and varied stories of the American diaspora. She asks us to read (or re-read) these books and consider what other books they remind us of. I invite you to check out her list, designed for high school to adult readers. For Beanstack clients, use the challenge on your site!
Returning as this episode’s Beanstack featured librarian is Cicely Lewis, School Library Journal’s 2020 school librarian of the year, from Gwinnett County Public Schools. Cicely, aka the Read Woke librarian, talks about why read-alouds are so important even for high school students, and why she refuses to stop using the word “woke” to inspire young people to read important narratives.
Listen to the full episode, “The Fire Inside: Jacqueline Woodson Carries the Torch,” on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Like what you hear? Please leave a 5-star review, subscribe, and share with someone who will enjoy it!