All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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A video interview with

Jacqueline Woodson

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Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline Woodson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She now writes full-time and has recently received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Her other awards include a Newbery Honor, two Coretta Scott King awards, two National Book Award finalists, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Although she spends most of her time writing, Woodson also enjoys reading the works of emerging writers and encouraging young people to write, spending time with her friends and her family, and sewing. Jacqueline Woodson currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

In 2018, Woodson was inaugurated as the sixth National Ambassador for Young People's Literature by the Library of Congress. During her tenure (2018-2019), Woodson will travel nationwide over the course of her two-year term promoting her platform, “READING = HOPE x CHANGE (What’s Your Equation?),” which encourages young people to think about – and beyond – the moment they are living in, the power they possess and the impact reading can have on showing them ways in which they can create the hope and the change they want to see in the world.

Selected Books

from Jacqueline Woodson


Age Level: 9-12

Narrator Frannie keenly observes the changing dynamics in her classroom when a new white student arrives. Frannie also frets about her family — her deaf brother isolated from the hearing world and her pregnant mother prone to miscarriages.

Buy Feathers

After Tupac and D Foster

Age Level: 14-16

A common love of Tupac Shakur unites three preteens: two from comfortable lives and one, D Foster, who can really relate to Tupac's lyrics.

Buy After Tupac and D Foster


Age Level: 9-12

Disguised as boys, Lena and her sister Dion flee their father's abuse. They hitchhike to their mother's hometown in Kentucky in hopes of finding a relative to care for them.

Buy Lena


Age Level: 9-12

Through a class poetry assignment, fifth-grader Lonnie reveals the house fire that killed his parents, his separation from his sister, his life in foster care, and his community's struggle with poverty and racism.

Buy Locomotion

Peace, Locomotion

Age Level: 9-12

Lonnie, aka Locomotion (first introduced in Locomotion) tries to connect with his sister and to prevent forgetting their "real" parents. As he writes Lili, readers learn about his life including his foster brother who has returned from the Iraq war.

Buy Peace, Locomotion

The House You Pass Along the Way

Age Level: 12-14

Not only is 14-year-old Staggerlee self-named, she a child of the county's only interracial marriage. Moreover, Staggerlee is struggling with an attraction to other girls, something that she can share only with a 14-year-old cousin who visits for the summer.

Buy The House You Pass Along the Way


Age Level: 12-14

Growing up is particularly difficult for Evie Green as she has no past. She lost it when her father testified against fellow police officers in a racially motivated murder. Each family member must learn to deal with their new lives and identities alone.

Buy Hush

If You Come Softly

Age Level: 12-14

Two 15 year olds — one black one white — meet and fall in love at an excusive New York prep school. Both deal with their family issues as well as with how their growing relationship is received. This difficult novel is told in the couple's alternating voices — until the wrenching and tragic conclusion.

Buy If You Come Softly

Brown Girl Dreaming

Age Level: 9-12

The early years of a girl who grows into a writer has been recreated from family stories combined with memory and presented in verse. Born in February 1963 in Ohio, Woodson's family soon moves to the South during turbulent years. The history of the writer, her family and a nation combine in rich, metaphorical language.

Buy Brown Girl Dreaming

Harbor Me

Age Level: 9-12

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat. There, in the room they soon dub the "ARTT Room" they discover it's safe to talk about what's bothering them--everything from Esteban's father's deportation and Haley's father's incarceration to Amari's fears of racial profiling and Ashton's adjustment to his changing family fortunes. Together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

Buy Harbor Me