Jacqueline Woodson

An Evening With Jacqueline Woodson

Presented By
Jacqueline Woodson and Mará Rose Williams

When she was young, it bothered – no, angered – Jacqueline Woodson that none of the characters she saw and read about in books looked and lived like her. As she later told The New York Times, "My ordinary life wasn’t represented."

As an author, Woodson has had a hand in changing that dynamic, in diversifying a publishing industry that had historically neglected not only African Americans but anyone of color. It’s part of a long and remarkable resume that counts more than three dozen published books and a raft of awards including a National Book Award, four Newbery Honors for “distinguished contributions to American literature for children,” and Woodson’s selection by the Library of Congress four years ago as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

As part of the Library’s yearlong celebration of the 150th year of its founding – and in conjunction with this year’s observance of International Women’s Day – Woodson talks about her life and consequential career, the importance of reading, and the essential role of libraries on each of those fronts with Mar á Rose Williams, The Kansas City Star’s assistant managing editor for race & equity issues. Woodson also offers a short reading from one of her recent books.

Woodson’s published works, many of them bestsellers, range from poetry to prose, from children’s titles to two acclaimed adult novels. She received the 2014 National Book Award for her bestselling Brown Girl Dreaming, a memoir in verse that also earned the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, and an NAACP Image Award. In 2020, she was accorded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the highest international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children's books.

The MacArthur Foundation made her a MacArthur “genius grant” Fellow in 2020, lauding her “stories about Black children, teenagers, and families that evoke the hopefulness and power of human connection even as they tackle difficult issues such as the history of slavery and segregation, incarceration, interracial relationships, social class, gender, and sexual identity.”

Born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York, Woodson now lives with her family in Brooklyn.

A 6 p.m. reception precedes her presentation, offering food, cocktails, and music. Woodson’s discussion is livestreamed at youtube.com/kclibrary (for which no RSVP is necessary).

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Jacqueline Woodson

An Evening With Jacqueline Woodson

Date & Location
Reception: 6 p.m.
In Person