The Day You Begin

by Jacqueline Woodson

Other authorsRafael Lopez (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2018



Local notes

E Woo


Nancy Paulsen Books (2018), 32 pages


Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself but later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.


Original language


Physical description

32 p.; 9.31 inches


0399246533 / 9780399246531



Media reviews

In The Day You Begin, Rafael López’s illustrations marry with Jacqueline Woodson’s text to create the perfect visual experience of growing from an outsider to finding the courage to connect with others “a little like you [but] so fabulously not quite like you at all.”
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Woodson’s gentle, lilting story and López’s artistry create a stirring portrait of the courage it takes to be oneself: “There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you until the day you begin/ to share your stories.”
A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. 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.
Award winning team Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez have created this new picture book and it is even more perfect than we anticipated.
The soft, evocative illustrations introduce us to characters who live these situations alone, before realizing that they can connect across, and because of, the identities and experiences that make them unique.

User reviews

LibraryThing member jmoncton
Loved this story written by the amazing Jacqueline Woodson. It highlights how there are times when we just feel like we don't fit in, whether it's being the only child in a school who didn't travel over vacation, or being the only person who looks different in the room. But the lesson in this story is that there are always ways that we can connect with others and build a community. This is a book that should be given to that favorite teacher you know. Perfect for early elementary school.… (more)
LibraryThing member darianskie
The story of feeling different until you begin to share and realize that things aren't too different.
LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
"There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you." Whether it's skin color, a unique name, a lunch unlike what the other kids bring, or a lack of athletic ability, Woodson recognizes those moments when a child feels loneliest and apart from the group. Poetic gentle prose underscores the lonely feelings but also at the end, reassures that similarities and differences open us up to each other.… (more)
LibraryThing member melodyreads
being the new and different kid, and persevering to find someone you share a little something with
LibraryThing member lycomayflower
Picture book about a boy riding the subway with his grandmother, meeting many kinds of people, and helping out in a soup kitchen. Very good.
LibraryThing member Lake_Oswego_UCC
Other students laugh when Rigoberto, an immigrant from Venezuela, introduces himself but later, he meets Angelina and discovers that he is not the only one who feels like an outsider.
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Based upon a poem in her award-winning memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, author Jacqueline Woodson explores how it feels to be different from one's peers in this lovely picture-book. "There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you," the text begins, going on to describe the ways one might be different, from personal appearance to food eaten, names and languages spoken to family background and summer activities. Depicting the feeling of being a fish out of water with sympathy, the narrative concludes with the idea that through communication and sharing, one discovers that there are many things we have in common with those around us, just as there are things that set us apart...

I always love Woodson's picture-books, from Each Kindness to Coming on Home Soon. They are so beautifully written, so thought-provoking, and so poignant and joyful by turns. The Day You Begin is all of those things, and although it probably doesn't rank as one of my favorites - there are some of Woodson's books that I simply can't read without a lump in my throat - it is outstanding. I appreciated the various themes explored in the text, and I absolutely loved the accompanying mixed media artwork by the talented Rafael López. His color palette is delightful, and the diverse range of characters he depicts are all so expressive, perfectly capturing the feeling evoked by the text on that page. Recommended to Jacqueline Woodson fans, Rafael López admirers, and anyone looking for children's stories about our differences and commonalities.
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LibraryThing member Zoes_Human
I love Jacqueline Woodson so very much. What a charming and relatable story about feeling different and alone! It's lovely, and every child will be able to see themselves in it. It's honest yet reassuring. It's like the woman wrote a hug!

And the art? Gorgeous! Cover to cover, The Day You Begin is a feast of colors and images.

Great for ages 5-8… (more)
LibraryThing member nbmars
Jacqueline Woodson tells a lovely story that offers support and encouragement for all the children who walk into a room - for example, on the first day of school - and think with dread that they are different from everyone else. What if they laugh at you, or think you are strange, or what if you can’t play the same games they know how to play? So many kids will relate to these scenarios!

Woodson was inspired by a family story about her great-grandfather, who went to live with an aunt in a town where he was the only black child in his school. How do you cope when “no one there is like you?” as she asked in a poem in her book Brown Girl Dreaming.

Using poetic free verse in this book as well, Woodson writes about times a child may feel like an outsider and be insecure about it:

“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?
Tell the class your story."

The other children in the book boast of travels during the summer - to Maine, to India, to Spain even!

But what if all you did was stay at home and read to your little sister?

“And in that room, where no one else is quite like you, you’ll look down
At your own empty hands and wonder What good is this
When other students were flying
And sailing and
Going somewhere.

The illustrations provide examples of other situations in which someone might feel excluded, showing a Latinx immigrant new to the country; a Korean girl with different food for lunch than the others bring; and a lonely white boy who prefers books to sports.

But then the little girl bravely decides to share her own stories:

“My name is Angelina and
I spent my whole summer with my little sister . . .
Reading books and telling stories and
Even though we were right on our block it was like
We got to go EVERYWHERE.”

The other children respond positively, and soon the girl finds new friends, and sees that “every new friend has something a little like you - and something else so fabulously not quite like you at all.”

Rafael López uses simple pictures and yet manages, with his bright palette, to convey every nuance of every emotion expressed.

Evaluation: There is a good reason Jacqueline Woodson is so beloved as an author. I wish there had been a book like this when I started first grade and it seemed like everyone already knew each other from kindergarten, which I did not attend. The illustrations are so moving, and so well done. The recommended age range is from 4-8, but since I still feel this way in many social occasions, I would change it to ages 4 and up!
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LibraryThing member HeidiSki
We are all different and this book would be a wonderful introduction to the school year for our newly enrolled students as no one really knows them yet, at NH. I would like to suggest that our counselor use in small groups. Another powerful Jacqueline Woodson book.
LibraryThing member ebrossette
This book is for students who feel as if there's no one in the class like them. Whether it's because of where they are from, how they speak, or their athletic ability, some students feel alone. Woodson reminds readers that once you begin to open up and tell your story, "the world opens itself up a little wider to makes some space for you".
I think the book is very important for all readers because each character faces a problem that readers can relate to, and feel represented.
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LibraryThing member BookwormMarie
“The Day you begin” by Jacqueline Woodson is a beautifully written story about the first day of school for Angelina, an adorable girl of color. Like most new kids, she is worried about meeting new friends and being accepted. As she enters her classroom she finds students of all different races and cultures. As they start sharing stories of their summer vacations, Angelina feels awkward because she didn’t go away on a vacation. She spent her summer reading books to her little sister. Once she shares her story she realizes that even though they are all different, by sharing their stories they find connections.

The beautiful illustrations by award winning Illustrator, Rafael Lopez really compliment this sweet story. The words flow on the page and the illustrations bring it all to life. Woodson is a dynamic and powerful writer. This is a great read aloud for the first day of school for PK-2 students.
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LibraryThing member aengolia
This book portrays the story of a young girls first day of school. All of her friends traveled to different places but all she did all summer was read. She then realizes that reading allows you to travel to different places too. This is such a good story to begin with on the first day of school, before asking any questions! This is because there could be a student in the class who is just like this girl and may be a little embarrassed or shy to open up. By reading this story, you can allow students to feel more comfortable opening up and sharing with the class. This was a fun read.… (more)
LibraryThing member pataustin
In this first day of school book, Jacqueline Woodson captures a universal experience of being new. Angelina is reticent to share her story because her summer wasn't as exciting as her classmates. That is, until she begins to tell her story. I love how Woodson creates a kind of double meaning just by the way she uses line breaks. The day you begin
to tell your story.

When she realizes that she does have her own unique and valuable experience (reading to her sister) she gets braver. I also love Lopez's pictures, which several times include rulers. The take away is that we're always measuring ourselves against others.
… (more)






(240 ratings; 4.6)
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