Top 110 Jacqueline Woodson Quotes of 2020

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“Greenville, S.C., in the 1970s is a rolling green dream in my memory now.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I think, even though homophobia still exists, there is much more of a dialogue and a taboo around being homophobic.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I have a short attention span, so when one book isn’t working out, I just work on another.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“As a child in South Carolina, I spent summers like so many children – sitting on my grandparents’ back porch with my siblings, spitting watermelon seeds into the garden or, even worse, swallowing them and trembling as my older brother and sister spoke of the vine that was probably already growing in my belly.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“The more specific we are, the more universal something can become. Life is in the details. If you generalize, it doesn’t resonate. The specificity of it is what resonates.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Each book I write is a shout into the silence and a prayer and a plea for change.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“If you have no road map, you have to create your own.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“My sister taught me how to write my name when I was about three. I remember writing my whole name: Jacqueline Amanda Woodson. I just loved the power of that, of being able to put a letter on the page and that letter meaning something.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“The South was very segregated. I mean, all through my childhood, long after Jim Crow was supposed to not be in existence, it was still a very segregated South.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“The idea of feeling isolated is scary to me – to walk through the world alone would be heartbreaking.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Friendship is such an important thing to me, and I feel like the people who I love and help keep me whole – I can’t imagine a life without them.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Every time you revisit a book, you get something else out of it.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“If someone has something they’re really passionate about, that’s their brilliance, and my big question is how do we grow that passion/brilliance and/or help them grow.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“For my family, ‘black-ish’ is the reward on a Thursday evening – a day after the show officially airs, when it’s finally available to be streamed.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Reading equals hope times change.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I’m fascinated by adult women who don’t have close friends and how that could come to be. I think when you’re a kid, the relationships are so intimate, and you’re so connected to your girls, so what becomes of them? What could possibly happen to have you become an adult woman and no longer have that?”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“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.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“What I write comes from a place of deep love, and a deep understanding of all kinds of otherness.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Even after Jim Crow was supposed to not be a part of the South anymore, there were still ways in which you couldn’t get away from it. And I think once I got to Brooklyn, there was this freedom we had.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I deeply believe in many Christian values: love people; do the right thing; know that there’s good in everyone, that God’s looking out for all of us.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I love writing for young people. It’s the literature that was most important to me, the stories that shaped me and informed my own journey as a writer.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Both racism and homophobia come from a sense of the presumed and the unknown.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“To me, elegy suggests that there is hope, and in some respects you’ve moved past the loss and are able to deal with it and to write about it.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“The epistolary form is one of the hardest to write. It’s so hard to show something that’s bigger in a letter. Plus, you have to have the balance of how many letters are going to work to tell the story and how few are going to make it fall apart.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I realized if I didn’t start talking to my relatives, asking questions, thinking back to my own beginnings, there would come a time when those people wouldn’t be around to help me look back and remember.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“A 10-year-old knows a lot. If you think she or he isn’t noticing the world around them, you’re missing a lot.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I write for whoever needs to read it.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I feel like I am walking in some amazing footsteps of writers who have come before me, like S.E. Hinton, Walter Dean Myers, Christopher Paul Curtis, Richard Peck and Kate DiCamillo, who I love.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Being a Witness was too closed an experience. That’s what I walked away from, not the things I believe.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I think it’s so important that, if I’m writing about the real world, I stay true to it. I think that kids do compartmentalize, and they’re hopefully able to see it from a safe place of their own lives and, through that, learn something about empathy.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I didn’t know how many independent bookstores had amazing wine lists until I toured with ‘Another Brooklyn.’”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I rewrite a lot until I get the rhythm and story right on the page.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I didn’t have any idea of what I was getting into by going away to college. And I was scared. I was scared of failing. I was scared of it not being for me because I was going to be one of the first people in my family to go off to college.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Young people are often ignored and disregarded, but they are acute observers and learners of everything we say and do.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“People who are living in economic struggle are more than their circumstances. They’re majestic and creative and beautiful.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Hope is universal.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I never know, when I start writing a story, what’s going to happen, or how it will all get sorted out.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I couldn’t be a writer without hope. I think I became a writer because I’m pretty optimistic.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“When I’m feeling frustrated with a story, I have faith that it’s going to come. Also, when I first started writing, I wanted to write the stories that were not in my childhood, to represent people who hadn’t historically been represented in literature.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I’m usually working either on a picture book and a young adult book, or a middle grade book and a young adult book. When I get bored with one, I move to the other, and then I go back.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“You can’t have too many books featuring people of color, just like you can’t have too many books featuring white people.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Until I was about 13, Manhattan had been a world seen from its edges.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“My mother was a single mom whose days were spent as a customer service rep at Con Edison in downtown Brooklyn.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“As a person of color, as a woman, as a body moving through this particular space in time, I realize the streets of New York tell the story of resistance, an African-American history of brilliance and beauty that, even in its most brutal moments, did not – could not – kill our resilient and powerful spirit.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“In the midst of observing the world and coming to consciousness, I was becoming a writer, and what I wanted to put on the page were the stories of people who looked like me.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“By the time I was in fifth grade, I was dreaming of the Pulitzer Prize.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I would have written ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’ if no one had ever wanted to buy it, if it went nowhere but inside a desk drawer that my own children pulled out one day to find a tool for survival, a symbol of how strong we are and how much we’ve come through.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“In all my childhood, I never heard my grandparents say that anything shocked or surprised them. They knew what their country was capable of.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“When I was a child, we never began a meal without prayer. We thanked God for the food, for each other.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“My kids speak of both subtle slights and blatant racism. It’s a narrative I never imagined for them.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Who are you without your girls? I truly believe that. Who are you without the people who help you make sense of the misogyny, the racism, the economic struggle, all of it? You need those people saying you’re a good mom, a great writer. You’re a great dresser. You cook well. Whatever the beauty is that you need to hear.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Told a lot of stories as a child. Not ‘Once upon a time’ stories but, basically, outright lies. I loved lying and getting away with it!”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“There was something about telling the lie-story and seeing your friends’ eyes grow wide with wonder. Of course I got in trouble for lying, but I didn’t stop until fifth grade.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I am still surprised when I walk into a bookstore and see my name on a book’s binder.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Sometimes, when I’m sitting at my desk for long hours and nothing’s coming to me, I remember my fifth-grade teacher, the way her eyes lit up when she said, ‘This is really good.’”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I’m inspired by questions I have that I try to figure out the answers to through my writing.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I love the physical act of writing as well as how I grow which each situation I put on the page.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I think ‘Miracle’s Boys’ made more people aware of my work.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“The hardest part is telling one’s story. Once the story is on the page, the rest will come.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“When I write, I don’t think about messages for my readers.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“What I learned for myself… is that no matter what the circumstances, people survive.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was seven, but I didn’t grow up in family where people aspired to live as writers.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I wrote all the time, and I had teachers who encouraged it.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I love playing with form. I love playing with sounds… I love music, and I love writing that has a musicality to it.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“In writing ‘Another Brooklyn,’ I had to imagine what happens when friendships dissolve.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“’Another Brooklyn’ came to me in this kind of dreamlike series of vignettes.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I feel like, as a person of color, I’ve always been kind of doing the work against the tide.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“The strength of my mother is something I didn’t pay attention to for so long. Here she was, this single mom, who was part of the Great Migration, who was part of a Jim Crow south, who said, ‘I’m getting my kids out of here. I’m creating opportunities for these young people by any means necessary.’”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I don’t want anyone to walk through the world feeling invisible ever again.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I love how much love there is in the world of young adult and children’s literature.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“’Brown Girl Dreaming’ was a book I had a lot of doubts about – mainly, would this story be meaningful to anyone besides me? My editor, Nancy Paulsen, kept assuring me, but there were moments when I was in a really sad place with the story for so many reasons. It wasn’t an easy book to write – emotionally, physically, or creatively.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Readers are hungry to have their stories in the world, to see mirrors of themselves if the stories are about people like them, and to have windows if the stories are about people who have been historically absent in literature.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“People want to know and understand each other across lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Labeling is not the best way to get young people to deeply engage in reading.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Childhood, young adulthood is fluid. And it’s very easy to get labeled very young and have to carry something through your childhood and into your adulthood that is not necessarily who you are.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“With my writing, I try to do stuff I have not done before. Each time I sit down, I want to have a new experience, and by extension, I want my readers to have a different experience.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Memory doesn’t come as a straight narrative. It comes in small moments with all this white space.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I think people are willing to talk about anything if you come to it with kindness.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“We, as adults, are the gatekeepers, and we have to check our own fears at the door because we want our children to be smarter than we are. We want them to be more fully human than we are.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“In the family, writing wasn’t anything anyone understood – being a writer in the real world? How could it be? We didn’t have those mirrors.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“When someone says to me, ‘I love your book – I read it in a day,’ I want to tell them to go back and read it again.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I think there is such a richness to the South and a lushness and a way of life.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I feel like I’m a New Yorker to the bone. But there is a lot of the South in me. I know there is a lot of the South in my mannerisms. There’s a lot of the South in my expectations of other people and how people treat each other. There’s a lot of the South in the way I speak, but it could never be home.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I don’t want my kids to have to walk through a world where they have to constantly explain who they are and who their family is.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“My mom was very strict. And we were very religious. So I knew that I was not allowed to do the wrong thing. And I knew that I had a home I could run to. And I had a mom.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I think when I was a young person, there was just kind of – there was very little dialogue about it. And there was just kind of one way to be gay, right? You saw very effeminate guys. You saw very butch women. And there was no kind of in-between. And there was no – you know, there wasn’t anything in the media. There wasn’t anything on television.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“To be poet laureate is to try to spread the love and the accessibility of poetry to young people.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“My mom was a big fan of Al Green… James Brown we weren’t allowed to listen to, so of course I knew James Brown.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“The conscious imprinting that happens between, say, 10 and 16 is huge. I think it’s so important for me as a writer to stay open to the memories of that period because they were so formative.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I do believe that books can change lives and give people this kind of language they wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I think there is much more queer visibility than there was when I was a kid. There is marriage, more trans visibility, and many more celebrities who are open about the sexuality. This was so not the case when I was a kid.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I think, as a kid, turning on the television and seeing that everyone seemed to be wealthy and white made me feel like an outsider, lesser than. I was not wealthy. I was not white.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“The civil rights movement was about access to public space. We had to fight for public space.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“When I was a kid, I got in trouble for lying a lot, and I had a teacher say, ‘Instead of lying, write it down, because if you write it down, it’s not a lie anymore; it’s fiction.’”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I feel like once I say out loud, to the public, what I’m working on, it’s never going to be an actual book. So until it’s close to done, I keep pretty quiet about my next stuff!”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I don’t believe there are ‘struggling’ readers, ‘advanced’ readers, or ‘non’ readers.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“The Great Migration can get forgotten if we don’t pay attention or bear witness to it. It’s part of my personal history and the history of millions of African Americans who left those oppressive conditions for better lives in the North. It’s important to put that on the page.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“In young adult novels and children’s books, you stay in moment. The story goes through a school year or a weekend. You never get a sense of a future self because the young person has not lived that yet.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“Everything I write, I read aloud. It has to sound a certain way and look a certain way on page.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I read a lot of the books that I love again and again and again and try to understand how the writer did it.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I still love Carson McCullers and Raymond Carver and Toni Morrison and James Baldwin.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I think that’s important: to know ‘the other,’ as a means of coming to understanding.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“In the daytime, I was expected to be the straight-A student. I was expected to be college bound. I was expected to be a great big sister. And then at night, I was just a club kid.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I always say I write because I have questions, not because I have answers. It’s true that you begin the conversation – that’s the role of the artist. But it’s not my job to tell us what to do next. I wish I had those tools.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“I’m usually working on several things at once. If I get bored with one, I can go on to another. That way, I never get stuck.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“My family is big, complicated, and beautiful – and keeps me smiling and whole. It’s so important to have family, whether it’s biological family, good friends, foster families, or a group of aunties who are raising you. The idea of feeling isolated is scary to me – to walk through the world alone would be heartbreaking.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“My writing is inspired by where I come from, where I am today, and where I hope to go some day.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“My grandparents were wealthy; my mom was not. I would walk into these worlds of privilege and then walk back into this other world. My little brother is biracial. So race and economic class and sexuality – these were always issues that were a part of my life.”

― Jacqueline Woodson

“The writing that I have found to be most false is the writing that doesn’t offer hope.”

― Jacqueline Woodson
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