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Sunday, June 16, 2024
Author Jacqueline Woodson discssued how she thought about her own identity, especially as a female of color, while writer her award-winning books.

Author Jacqueline Woodson discssued how she thought about her own identity, especially as a female of color, while writer her award-winning books.

Award-winning author places herself in the stories she writes

Award-winning author of children and adolescent books, Jacqueline Woodson, talked about her inherent inspiration for becoming a writer as "wanting to see herself in the world," at The Charlotte Zolotow Lecture Thursday.

Woodson is known for “Miracle's Boys” and “Brown Girl Dreaming,” which won her the 2014 National Book Award in the young people's literature category.

The Charlotte Zolotow Lecture, established in 1998 and named after a memorable children's book editor and UW-Madison alumna, invites a distinguished children's book author or illustrator to give a free public speech every year. The Cooperative Children's Book Center, a supporting resource for teaching, learning and research related to children and young adult literature, administers this event.

Woodson moved from South Carolina to New York City with her family during the Great Migration. At that time, despite her interest and passion, it was unrealistic for her to think about becoming a writer as a female from the colored community.

When Woodson was in the predicament of wanting to write and tell her story, she was profoundly encouraged by a young writer who said, "Everyone has a right to tell their story." But she said that she couldn't see herself in reflection in the literature that she read, which is a way the real world denied her of that right.

"For people of color, they always have lots and lots of windows into the white world, and there are few mirrors in ourselves being reflected into the world through the literature," Woodson said. "Once you see yourself in books, you realize you acquire a bigger world. You realize there is legitimacy in your life that you didn't even know, you didn't think was there."

Woodson noted that she always contemplates her own place in the story. When she created a character of a victim, she was cautious about protecting the sentiment of readers who would relate. She also mentioned that it is her responsibility to get them, the people who suffer from victimization, out of that place.

"For me as a writer, it has always been a responsibility to make sure any reader coming to read my books see themselves in a positive life," Woodson said.

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