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Seeing Yourself in Your Favorite Books: A Conversation with Jacqueline Woodson

Carlos Diaz


Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, recipient of the 2018 Astrid Lindgren memorial Award and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. She's the author of two new books.


“The Day You Begin,” illustrated by Rafael Lopez is a picture book that’s perfect for any child or adult who has felt nervous or different in school,and “Harbor Me,” a middle grade novel, shares the stories of a diverse group of Brooklyn 5th graders.  


Her books often deal with identity, particularly for individuals who have been underrepresented in the mainstream literary community.


“It makes people feel less lonely, right? To see yourself reflected in the world. And it’s only fair to know that you’re part of this kind of continuum, or that you’re part of something bigger,” Woodson says. “So when you see those mirrors, when you finally open a book  and say, ‘that’s me,’ it’s like, not only am I right here reading the book, but I’m also a part of a bigger narrative.”


In addition to penning two new books, Woodson’s book “Brown Girl Dreaming” won the National Book Award and her novel for adults, “Another Brooklyn” was National Book Award nominee.


Woodson will be at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City on Saturday, September 8th in an event sponsored by Prairie Lights Bookstore, and during this hour of Talk of Iowa, she talks to host Charity Nebbe.


Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa