A goal this year was to read more poetry and other books written in verse. I figured if I start with middle grade poetry I can work my way up to more “adult” poetry. Today I have two books that are not only written in verse, but also share the story of the American experience for two different minority groups.
The first book is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. This a autobiographical story of Jacqueline Woodson who lived with her parents in Ohio, until they divorced when she was a young girl, and she and her sibilings moved to North Carolina to live with her grandparents. This book not only explores what it was like in the South in the 1960’s during the civil rights movement, it also explores her discovery of her passion for writing. The book ends when she is almost a teenager. This tale is hopeful, heartbreaking, and historical. All told through the eyes of a young Jacqueline Woodson.
Brown Girl Dreaming is an excellent introduction to the civil rights movement and to the southern experience during the 60’s. I highly recommend this book to children 9 and up.
The second book is Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. This is a story about a Vietnamese girl named Há. She lives in Saigon with her mother and three brothers during the Vietnam War. The story begins right as Saigon is about to fall. Inside Out & Back Again is a look into the immigrant experience during the late 1960’s to mid 1970’s in America. The story details what it was like in Saigon, how Há and her family immigrated to the United States, their time in Guam and them moving to Alabama and staying with a host family. This story was easy to follow and the verse was very straight forward. It talked of Há navigating a new country, being bullied, and fitting in an already volatile environment where you don’t fit in either “category.”
I found this book so interesting because it was about a point in history that I knew very little about. The immigrant experience is something I don’t have much knowledge and seeing it told through the eyes of a child made me so curious. I would recommend this book to any child 8 years and older.
I highly recommend these books as an introduction to verse, immigration, or the civil rights movement. Both stories explore acceptance and discovery.
Comment below if you know of any more books that are similar to these two.