11 Beautifully Wise Quotes from Jacqueline Woodson

by Crystal Paul

Although she’s most famous for her award-winning YA novel in verse Brown Girl Dreaming, author Jacqueline Woodson has long been dedicated to the mission to make the world of young adult and children’s books more inclusive. She’s written books about growing up after segregation was outlawed, about bi-racial brothers growing up parentless in New York, the Great Migration, and even a book about the death of Tupac Shakur. Woodson writes beautifully and boldly about the communities she knows best — communities that are often left out of the mainstream children’s and YA literature.

She writes across the gender spectrum and all over economic and racial divides, and she touches on all the topics that might be considered “taboo” for children’s lit. And that’s what makes her awesome; she flouts the notion that the childhood experience is monolithic, and she dares to give young people the stories, acceptance, and encouragement to be themselves that they need.

Of course, we don’t just stop needing those things when we age out of the middle grade section of the library. Whether you’re a young adult, a lover of young adult literature, or old enough that all the candles don’t fit on your birthday cakes anymore, Jacqueline Woodson’s books hold some brilliant gems of wisdom for any reader of any age, any race, any gender… for anyone!

1. “People are going to judge you all the time no matter what you do...Don't worry about other people. Worry about you.”

― Jacqueline Woodson, The Dear One

2. “The empty swing set reminds us of this--

that bad won't be bad forever,and what is good can sometimes lasta long, long time.”

― Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

3. “When there are many worldsyou can choose the oneyou walk into each day.”

― Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

4. “That's good. Always take the time. You really never know when you're not going to have it anymore.”

― Jacqueline Woodson, The House You Pass on the Way

5. "No matter how big you get, it's still okay to cry because everybody's got a right to their own tears.”

― Jacqueline Woodson, Peace, Locomotion

6. “This is what kindness does, Ms.Albert said. Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.”

― Jacqueline Woodson, Each Kindness

7. “If someone had taken that book out of my hand said, You’re too old for this maybe I’d never have believed that someone who looked like me could be in the pages of the book that someone who looked like me had a story.”

― Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

8. “They're all inside of us,...past people and present people. And probably even the people we'll become.”

― Jacqueline Woodson, The House You Pass on the Way

9. “No past.

No future.Just this perfect now.”

― Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

10. “My whole family knows I can’t sing. My voice, my sister says, is just left of the key. Just right of the tune. But I sing anyway, whenever I can.”

― Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

11. “ I can’t walk through this world with blinders on or else I don’t grow. I think there are those who are afraid to let the world in — to see the injustices, the unkindness, the fear, etc. I can’t afford to be one of those people because it would mean not growing — and if I can’t grow, I can’t write. So some days, I’m like this big bruise walking through the world — and it’s a bit awful but it comes with what it means to be a writer and so I do what I need to do — take deep breaths, find things to smile about, and write.”

—Jacqueline Woodson, interview with The Brown Bookshelf