Jacqueline Woodson’s Most Beautiful, Impactful Books for Young Readers

by Charnaie Gordon

Remarkable writers are visionaries of sorts. They can express their ideas clearly and develop fresh narratives. They have the power to string together words to form sentences so eloquently which in turn generate ideas, inspire revolutions, and change the way we view ourselves in the world and our place in history. Remarkable writers can change the way you look at literature. Jacqueline Woodson did that for me.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1963, Woodson spent most of her childhood in the 1960s and 1970s moving from place to place, without a sense of home. Throughout her childhood, she endured segregation ranging from subtle bias to Jim Crow laws. She has since made a career out of breaking down barriers and smashing glass ceilings for young readers through her remarkable writing. She has published over three dozen books with themes like race, LGBTQ+ identity, and interracial love. Her stories, often told through poems, confront current and relevant issues that are relatable to people of all ages.

Woodson is often hailed for the beauty, power, and depth of her stories. Her writing appeals to people at every stage of life — children, teens, and adults — and she has written across formats, from picture book to adult titles. She has won many of the industry’s top accolades for her work, including the Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award, and NAACP Image Award. In 2015, she was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. In January 2018, she was named the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress for 2018-2019 and was recently named the 2020 recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

I believe Woodson’s stories do more than entertain. They carry out her calling to write inspirational stories that explore real-world themes and issues. If you are a writer or aspiring writer, I urge you to use authors like Woodson as your guide to become a purposeful storyteller.

Here are some fantastic books written by the unparalleled Jacqueline Woodson: