“The Day You Begin” By Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated By Rafael López

A heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone. There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway. Ages 4–8.

About The Author

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. She received the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award, and is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award and a Sibert Honor. She is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a twotime Coretta Scott King Award winner. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Read Aloud Tips

  • Preview the title and illustration on the cover and talk about what the book might be about.
  • Always stop periodically and ask a prediction question like “What do you think will happen next?”
  • Using small-group discussions, have students reflect on a time when they felt like an outcast. Ask them to describe the emotions they were feeling and what happened after they took that first step into a place where they didn’t know anyone.
  • Have students reflect their own experiences by drawing a picture of themselves in that moment.

“A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride. . . . This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference. A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.” – Kirkus Reviews

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