Today at the beginning of class you took a short quiz over Woodson's verse novel. I then gave a short presentation on race, ethnicity, and culture in literature for young readers. You can access that presentation HERE and on the left hand side of the blog. I provided you with a document with some vocabulary and pointers for how to begin talking and writing about poetry. You can access that document HERE. I then asked you to spend some time working with a small group to identify significant poems from Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming and writing about different elements of form and poetic craft present in Woodson's verse novel. You can access that exercise HERE. You worked with your small group to evaluate your written responses according to a rubric I wrote on the board. Your response should include: citation of the author (first and last name, correctly spelled), book title (capitalized and underlined), poem title (in quotation marks), and significant characters/speakers in the poem; identification of the context of the passage or poem; discussion of the significance of the poem or passage to the text as a whole (at least one paragraph); and identification of a scholar (last name) and their idea or term to bolster your argument. We then came together as a large group to begin our discussion of the novel.
Critical Approaches to Brown Girl Dreaming: Stevenson and Woodson
After the break, I asked you to break into pairs to work on a series of discussion questions related to Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming. You can access that exercise HERE. These questions relate to the theme of naming in the novel, the haiku series, the paratext, the awards the novel has won, the narrative's participation in the Künstlerroman tradition, racism, and the We Need Diverse Books movement. Each group then presented on their questions, and we continued our discussion of the novel.
Key Questions From Class
What formal techniques and elements of poetic craft (music/sound, language, emotion, imagery) does Woodon use in Brown Girl Dreaming? What impact do these elements have on the reader? What is the verse novel? How are race, ethnicity, and culture represented in children's literature (historically and contemporarily)? How does Woodson's verse novel represent racism historically, and how do the events that occurred last year at the National Book Award ceremony relate to historical discussions of racism? What is the We Need Diverse Books movement, and why is diversity important in children's literature?
- Read Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese
- Read Irene Chen’s “Monkey King’s Journey to the West: Transmission of a Chinese Folktale to Anglophone Children” and Gene Luen Yang’s “Printz Award Winner Speech”
- HERE is a link to some of the images Yang references in his Printz Speech