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Jacqueline Woodson

A. Grace

“Its such a scary time to be anything ‘other’ in this world. Every character I write about is in some way outside of the mainstream—black, working-class poor white, a pregnant teen, gay. The thing I want to do in my books is show people that there are only positive things to come from being different.”—Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is a Coretta Scott King Honor Book winner, and many of her novels have been named ALA Notable Children’s Books and ALA Best Books for Young Adults.


Jacqueline Woodson began to consider becoming a writer when she was chosen to be the literary editor of a magazine in the fifth grade. Eventually, three books helped convince her to make writing her career: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Meriwether, and Ruby by Rosa Guy. Before reading these books, Woodson thought that only books featuring mainstream, white characters, or works by William Shakespeare constituted valid literature. But in these three books, Woodson saw parts of herself and her life, and realized that books could be about people like her—and she knew she wanted to write them.

Now a critically acclaimed author, Woodson writes about characters from a variety of races, ethnicities, and social classes. Woodson says, “There are all kinds of people in the world, and I want to help introduce readers to the kinds of people they might not otherwise meet.” Woodson’s books also feature strong female characters and she often writes about friendship between girls. “Girls rarely get discussed in books and films,” she says, “and I want to do ‘girl stories’ that show strong, independent people.”

Woodson might be describing herself when she uses words like “strong” and “independent.” Even though it isn’t always easy for her to write about the serious issues she does, she feels as though she has no other choice: “I can’t write about nice, easy topics because that won’t change the world. And I do want to change the world—one reader at a time.” Changing the world means changing people’s attitudes about things like teen pregnancy, racial issues, sexual abuse, and class tension. Sometimes it’s difficult to do, but she considers it necessary work, so that her readers will be more aware of different types of people and be better equipped to effect change when they get older. For this same reason, Woodson travels often to schools and libraries, speaking about her literature and the important issues about which she writes. She says, “Grown-ups are jaded. Children are much more open-minded, and they have the power to change the world.”

Woodson’s books include The House You Pass on the Way and Lena. The House You Pass on the Way is the corning-of-age story of 13-year-old Staggerlee, who is confused by her feelings for her friend Hazel. This beautifully written novel explores questions about emerging sexuality with sensitivity and respect. It also examines racial tension and the legacy of violence. Lena is the companion to the Coretta Scott King Honor–winning I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This, a complex and haunting story about sexual abuse and the healing power of friendship. Woodson again delivers a thoughtful and honest exploration of incest and abuse in an affecting novel,

Born on February 12, 1963, in Columbus, Ohio, Woodson grew up in Greenville, S.C., and Brooklyn, N.Y., and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. A former drama therapist for runaways and homeless children in New York City, she now writes full-time. Woodson also enjoys reading the works of emerging writers and encouraging young people to write; heated political conversations with her friends; and sewing.



—A Coretta Scott King Honor Book
—An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
—An ALA Notable Children’s Book
—A Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice
—A Horn Book Fanfare

“A quiet, beautiful friendship story. . . . This brief novel is controlled, each chapter like a film cut, with its own tight structure and falling beat. . . . The casual dialogue is sharp with pain, soft with affection; as much is said in the spaces between the words as in what is spoken.”—Starred, Booklist

“Woodson’s poignant prose deftly understates issues of race, abuse, and loss.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“This exceptional book . . . raises questions for which society has no answers.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“Wrenchingly honest . . . full of hope and inspiration.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“A haunting and beautifully poetic novel.”—Starred, The Horn Book Magazine

“Woodson writes with a sure understanding of the thoughts of young people, offering a poetic, eloquent narrative that is not simply a story of nearly adolescent children, but a mature exploration of grown-up issues: death, racism, independence, the nurturing of the gifted black child and, most important, self-discovery.”—The New York Times Book Review

“This simply told, finely crafted sequel to Last Summer with Maizon neatly avoids predictability while offering a perspective on racism and elitism rarely found in fiction for this age group.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“[Woodson] gently probes questions regarding racism and homosexuality in this poignant tale about growing pains and the ongoing process of self-discovery.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“The reader feels grateful that Woodson has whispered her lyrical story to us.”—Starred, The Horn Book Magazine

“Woodson takes the story . . . and connects it with every outsider’s coming-of-age.”—Booklist

“Richly layered. . . . Notable both for its quality and for the out-of-the-way places it goes.”—School Library Journal

“Lyrically written, Staggerlee’s search for self will resonate with many young readers.”—Recommended, The Bulletin

“The characterizations are rich, warm, and memorable; Woodson draws a frank, realistic picture of a community of African-American women who thrive while bravely confronting a myriad of problems and life situations. . . . A strong, original, and life-affirming book.”—Kirkus Reviews

Author Bookshelf

Miracle's Boys

By: Jacqueline Woodson


By: Jacqueline Woodson

A powerfully moving novel from a three-time Newbery Honor-winning author

Evie Thomas is not who she used to be. Once she had a best friend, a happy home and a loving grandmother living nearby. Once her name was Toswiah.



By: Jacqueline Woodson

Finalist for the National Book Award

When Lonnie was seven years old, his parents died in a fire. Now he's eleven, and he still misses them terribly. And he misses his little sister, Lili, who was put into...

Coming on Home Soon

By: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by: E. B. Lewis

Ada Ruth's mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It's war time, and women are needed to fill the men's jobs. As winter sets in, Ada Ruth and her grandma keep up their...

The Dear One

By: Jacqueline Woodson

An intriguing look at teen pregnancy from a three-time Newbery Honor winning author

Feni is furious when she finds out that her mother has agreed to take a fifteen-year-old pregnant girl into their...

The House You Pass On the Way

By: Jacqueline Woodson

A lyrical coming-of-age story from a three-time Newbery Honor winning author

Thirteen-year-old Staggerlee used to be called Evangeline, but she took on a fiercer name. She's always been different--set...

Behind You

By: Jacqueline Woodson

A moving story of love and loss from a three-time Newbery winning author

You are so light you move with the wind and the snow. . . . And it lifts you up-over a world of sadness and anger and fear....

Between Madison and Palmetto

By: Jacqueline Woodson

Margaret and Maizon are back together on Madison Street, but their friendship is different now. Margaret needs more time alone, and it's not just the two of them any more-their new neighbor and classmate, Caroline,...

This Is the Rope

By: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by: James Ransome

The story of one family’s journey north during the Great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s...

Show Way

By: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by: Hudson Talbott

Soonie's great-grandma was just seven years old when she was sold to a big plantation without her ma and pa, and with only some fabric and needles to call her own. She pieced together bright patches with names...


By: Jacqueline Woodson

A Newbery Honor Book

A beautiful and moving novel from a three-time Newbery Honor-winning author

“Hope is the thing with feathers” starts the poem Frannie is reading in school. Frannie hasn’t...

Maizon at Blue Hill

By: Jacqueline Woodson

Maizon takes the biggest step in her life when she accepts a scholarship to boarding school and says good-bye to her grandmother and her best friend, Margaret. Blue Hill is beautiful, and challenging-but there...

Pecan Pie Baby

By: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall

A sweet addition to the family is coming!

All anyone wants to talk about with Mama is the new “ding-dang baby” that’s on the way, and Gia is getting sick of it! If her new sibling is already such...


By: Jacqueline Woodson

A compelling story of survival from a three-time Newbery Honor winning author

At the end of I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Lena and her younger sister, Dion, set off on their own, desperate to...

I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This

By: Jacqueline Woodson

Twelve-year-old Marie is a leader among the popular black girls in Chauncey, Ohio, a prosperous black suburb. She isn't looking for a friend when Lena Bright, a white girl, appears in school. Yet they...

Miracle's Boys

By: Jacqueline Woodson

From a three-time Newbery Honor author, a novel that was awarded the 2001 Coretta Scott King award and the Los Angeles Times Book PrizeFor Lafayette and his brothers, the challenges of growing up in New...

Each Kindness

By: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by: E. B. Lewis


Each kindness makes the world a little better

This unforgettable book is written and illustrated by the award-winning team...

After Tupac and D Foster

By: Jacqueline Woodson

 A Newbery Honor Book

The day D Foster enters Neeka and her best friend’s lives, the world opens up for them. Suddenly they’re keenly aware of things beyond their block in Queens, things that are happening in the...

Peace, Locomotion

By: Jacqueline Woodson

The stunning companion to the National Book Award finalist--from a three-time Newbery Honor winning author

Twelve-year-old Lonnie is finally feeling at home with his foster family. But because he’s...

If You Come Softly

By: Jacqueline Woodson

A heartbreaking contemporary romance from a three-time Newbery Honor winning author

Jeremiah feels good inside his own skin. That is, when he's in his own Brooklyn neighborhood. But now he's going...

Beneath a Meth Moon

By: Jacqueline Woodson

Hurricane Katrina took her mother and granmother. And even though Laurel Daneau has moves on to a new life--one that includes a new best friend, a spot on the cheerleading squad, and dating the co-captain...

Brown Girl Dreaming

By: Jacqueline Woodson

National Book Award Winner

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always...

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

By: Jacqueline Woodson

Three-time Newbery Honor author Jacqualine Woodson explores race and sexuality through the eyes of a compelling narrator

Melanin Sun has a lot to say. But sometimes it's hard to speak his mind,...

If You Come Softly and Behind You

By: Jacqueline Woodson

Visiting Day

By: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by: James Ransome

In this moving picture book from multi-award winning author Jacqueline Woodson, a young girl and her grandmother prepare for a very special day--the one day a month they get to visit the girl's father...

The Other Side

By: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by: E. B. Lewis

Clover's mom says it isn't safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups'...

Last Summer with Maizon

By: Jacqueline Woodson

Margaret loves her parents and hanging out with her best friend, Maizon. Then it happens, like a one-two punch, during the summer she turns eleven: first, Margaret's father dies of a heart attack, and then Maizon...