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The Day You Begin

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  2,379 ratings  ·  528 reviews
National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner Rafael Lopez have teamed up to create a poignant, yet 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
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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Courtnie Sepe 4 to 8 is recommended, I have used it with 10 and 11 year olds. They enjoyed it just as much as the younger children. It was meaningful to them and…more4 to 8 is recommended, I have used it with 10 and 11 year olds. They enjoyed it just as much as the younger children. It was meaningful to them and they could emphasis with the characters and relate a time in their lives they felt being new or feeling different.(less)

Community Reviews

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4.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,379 ratings  ·  528 reviews

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David Schaafsma
Each year my family reads all the Goodreads-award-nominated picture books. This is book #15 (of 20) of 2018, a book written by a well-known and lauded author, illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Lyra takes the lead in the defense of this book, and I take the prosecution.

Lyra (11): 4.5 stars. I love how the pictures show both sides of the world. I like how it shows that we're all different, but in the end we're all very similar.

Hank (12): 4.5 stars. Lyra is totally right!

Harry (13): 3 stars. I don't kn
Laurie Anderson
Gorgeous and sweet and affirming.

Every child starting school should have a copy of this book!
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
Another critical darling that didn't impress me. I've loved Jacqueline Woodson's previous picture books, but this one I did not like much. The language is poetic. The illustrations are nice. But it's very message-y. And it felt long. But the main problem I have with it is the way the negative feelings of otherness and inferiority dominate the book. It's 90% negative (I'm embarrassed, I don't feel as good as everyone else), and 10% positive (diversity is wonderful, everyone is unique). So it's th ...more
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: great-kids-books
Wonderful, wonderful story, and the illustrations are simply breathtaking. My 7 yr. old enjoyed this so much, and we had a great discussion about the meaning behind the storyline as we read it together. We'll definitely read this many times. Great bedtime and classroom read!!
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Wow. Powerful and perfect. A beautifully illustrated and told story of encouragement and empowerment for kids who feel different from others, one that urges them to tell their stories and lift their voices.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cybils
It's not easy to impress me.

I was an elementary school librarian for years and years. I've been reading books nominated for the Cybils Awards for eleven of those years.

I've read a lot of good books.

The Day You Begin impressed me.

It's the simple story, told in unrhymed verse, of children who feel like they don't belong and who find connection in the little things.

I have loved Jacqueline Woodson for so many reasons, for her poetic words, for her truth, for her bravery. And now, with this book, I
Stephanie Anze
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, favorites
"....where every new friend has something a little like you- and something else so fabulously not quite like you at all."

In 'The Day You Begin' Jaqueline Woodson delivers a timely, impactful, universal and beautiful message. When current times are so overwhelmingly divisive and full of hate, we need to be reminded that we are better together than apart. The illustrations perfectly flow with the tone and theme of the book: inclusion and mutual respect. The prose is lyrical and well executed (I ha
Maria Caplin
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finally had a chance to read this masterpiece several times this morning 💕#heartprint
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very sweet children’s book which would be great for kids who feel different from their peers in some way. It discusses what it can be like to feel like you’re different and like you’re an outsider, and how friendships can form through finding commonalities.
Michele Knott
This is going to be one of the most important books to have in your library, regardless of the ages you teach.
Richie Partington
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Richie’s Picks: THE DAY YOU BEGIN by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López, ill., Nancy Paulsen Books, August 2018, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

“Be yourself.
Free yourself.”
-- Graham Nash (1971)

“There will be times when the words don’t come.
Your own voice, once huge, now smaller
when the teacher asks What did you do last summer?

We went to France, Chayla says.

These shells came from a beach in Maine.
A boy named Jonathan holds out a jar
filled with tiny shells so fragile,
they look like they’ll turn to
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With careful and evocative words, Woodson addresses a child's sense of being excluded, for any number of reasons, race, hair style, lunch ingredients, athletic ability, family life-style. More than half the book gives examples of not being like anyone else and I can picture young readers/listeners nodding their heads, it has happened to almost all of us. But then, there are words of encouragement, "your own brave self", "steady as steel" and when you do find your voice, you are reminded that "th ...more
Julie Kirchner
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had a chance to read this book at NErDCampMI and I am so happy I did! What an important book to have in my library. A look at how we feel when we don’t fit in, but also how important it is to be who we are, too. I can’t wait to share this book with teachers and students.
Two words: Jacqueline Woodson.
Getting along, being kind, inclusion. Need I say more?
Rebecca Caufman
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book celebrates differences and the importance of sharing YOUR personal story in order to let others in to your world and appreciate who YOU are.
Colby Sharp
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, picture-book
One of the best picture books of 2018. Read this aloud to my fifth graders to kick off the school year.

Elizabeth A
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, art, kids-ya
First line: There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.

Is there anyone who has not felt that exact way at some point in their lives?

This picture book just makes me happy. I love the message of being brave and taking the first steps into a place where no one knows you, or a place where you stick out because you are different in some way - maybe the color of your skin, or the curls in your hair, or the food your Mom packed for your lunch.

The text is lovely an
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With lyrical text and vibrant art, The Day You Begin is a celebration of connection with others once you muster up the courage to set things in motion. This picture book captures perfectly the sense of not belonging we've all felt at one point or another in our lives (at school or at an unfamiliar environment) and how we then found ourselves being part of something special (with family, friends, or an entire community.) It's a lesson we need to constantly re-learn.
Kate Foran
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it
A very “messagey” book. It’s poetic, the pictures are lovely too, but it feels like those heavy handed messagey kids books that adults love and kids are “meh” about.

It doesn’t have a plot exactly—just many vignettes of different children being ostracized for their differences — and later resolutions when the kids find ways to celebrate differences and commonalities.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pbf-general
I liked this book and the illustrations were lovely, rendered in acrylic paint, pen, ink, pencil and watercolors. I am not sure, however, that I liked the author switching from child to child, instead of just following one child.
Beth Honeycutt
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How could this book be anything but amazing! I’d add it to a list of picture books to share with students while talking about theme or acceptance.
Krissy Neddo
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Giving this to my teachers to read on the first day of school.
I like the premise of this one. The day we begin is when we find someone who is from our tribe. There are two narratives here and we get their journey to school. Once the two kids are in the same classroom, it seems they connect and this is when they each "begin."
Gretchen Taylor
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Top of my favorite book list ❤ my kids loved it, and it’s making its rounds with my colleagues, too. MASTERPIECE. ...more
Chance Lee
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Day You Begin is an illustrated prose poem by Jacqueline Woodson about loneliness, strength, identity, and friendship. The day you begin is ostensibly the day when a young girl from another country beginning school, and the setting remains mostly inside a classroom full of young people who are different –in race, background, physical ability, the way they speak, etc. The story, as much as it has one, is both highly specific and relatable to many.

Woodson mostly focuses on children who are di
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just like every other Jacqueline Woodson book - picture book, middle grade, teen, adult - this one went straight to the characters' hearts, and mine.
Sonia Allison
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

gives where like and not
tree and water
standing and move
wish of peace coulds
deseo friends
way we say
for name
uncatches us
here see
Lorie Barber
Thank you, Nancy Paulsen, for sending this book so I could share it with my students on their very first day of school. I am honored and grateful. Even more so now that I’ve read it.
Woodson’s messages that we can all find things we have in common, and that it takes a lot of bravery to make your voice heard are ideologies I want my fifth graders to be learning and talking about from day 1. Rafael López’s warm, vibrant, and hopeful illustrations bring Woodson’s lessons to life in a beautiful coll
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great many kids and adults will find solace in the text. The writing and illustrations are stunning. Every once in a while, a book comes around like this one. It is simply magical. I don't often purchase bound copies of my F&Gs, but I knew I needed to pre-order this one after I read it. It is a great book for teachers to read on the first day. The emotional impact is powerful. Everyone has felt excluded at some time or another, and this book digs deeply into that emotion and pushes readers ...more
A beautiful book about the power of differences while also acknowledging the challenges that feeling as if you don’t fit in cause. I loved that the story was not exactly narrative but instead of a snapshot into multiple kids’ lives to help show different examples of differences. We are all unique and that is what makes this book and our world beautiful!

Woodson’s lyrical language with Lopez’s collage and colorful illustration makes this book a piece of art that is going to bridge gaps, help stude
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I used to say I’d be a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing.

I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories a