Brown Girl Dreaming: A Book that Still Holds Powerful Relevance Today
That list is particularly extraordinary for a young author given that it has taken the focus of her book to the richness of different neighborhoods and subcultures within black communities, such as gentrification, income inequality, and economic injustice. The stories also shed light on the special challenges that some groups face in this country, such as the black child whose school is held hostage by environmental hazards and subsequently suffers from lead poisoning. These are unique ingredients that make the powerful lessons of Brown Girl Dreaming as fresh and relevant today as they were when it was published in 2001. It still has strong following more than 13 years later among the African-American community and a wider reading audience that has continued to visit the book’s website.
An 11-year-old’s Book that Still Holds Powerful Relevance Today
The author’s resource is dynamic and has no heir apparent, especially considering the decades-long lack of diversity within children’s literature. Many of the stories she features in her book expose prejudice against the African-American, the lesbian and gay, the autistic, the underprivileged and the elderly. The 10 stories underline that not everyone in America has the same story to tell, reflecting the complexity of black America, said Pam Jones, a freelance writer who has spent 20 years studying the challenges facing American children.
Jones has long admired Brown Girl Dreaming, calling it “the only big book I read where every character is different.” It has stood the test of time, she said, because it highlights issues that can be helpful to understand and overcome in the 21st century.
The Books Provide Well-Written Challenges
Recently, CNN published a piece titled, “Black Girl Reading Problem Puts America’s Reading Behind.” CNN’s piece, published on February 25, 2016, outlined the fact that the gap in reading proficiency for black and white students continues to widen. It presented statistics that showed that black students are twice as likely to not get the maximum grade in math and reading that they should for an entire school year than their white counterparts.
The existence of Brown Girl Dreaming has helped her children succeed, as well as others in her community, said Georgette Thomas, a teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools. Thomas, mother of a father of four, said she has kept one book on the shelf for each of her children since they were little. They still talk about it.
“It has always been a refuge to me,” she said. “It is a story I want to relate to my students.” She called Brown Girl Dreaming “an enriching way for kids to access literature.”
Dynamism, Empowerment and Choice
If any book could rival Brown Girl Dreaming in its ability to transform lives, it would be One Hundred Miles. That book has been a success in mainstream and academic circles ever since it was first published in 2009. The inspiring story follows a young man who grows up “in a down and out neighborhood,” according to author Perry Abel. “He could not always understand what was going on with his parents. But he loved sports, God, and cars. He heard God’s voice in his thoughts,” wrote Abel. “He had many people in his life. Not just his mom, but his grand-parents, his coaches, even little brothers and sisters. He knew where he was supposed to be and what he should do.”
Tammy Osborn-Might, associate professor of English at Smith College, recalled reading One Hundred Miles during high school and seeing parallels in the struggles of black youth who cannot find good jobs and are overworked and overstressed. Those themes reached her, especially in his demeanor and unwavering ability to find happiness. “It is a story that is brilliant. It is a young black male growing up today living in a housing project in an underserved neighborhood,” she said.
Thomas agreed, noting that One Hundred Miles was the first book her children read aloud. From that point, there was no stopping them. “For most of them, even when they go to college, they will say that this book, this character, that story will be part of their college history,” she said.
Author: MindShift Media