The Day you Begin

This book is an ideal start-of-year read-aloud, teaching inclusivity, cultural responsiveness, and social-emotional skills. Its theme, subtly woven into the illustrations as a 'ruler,' reminds students that their unique qualities are immeasurable. Exploring each other’s stories fosters a sense of being 'known,' which is crucial for vibrant learning communities. For older learners, delving into Jacqueline Woodson's craft offers a chance to analyze themes and explore how she intersects concepts of race, language, culture, and socio-economic status.

Social Justice Activities:

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Identity 4. Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.

Identity 5. Students will recognize traits of the dominant culture, their home culture and other cultures and understand how they negotiate their own identity in multiple spaces.

Diversity 6. Students will express comfort with people who are both similar to and different from them and engage respectfully with all people.

Diversity 8. Students will respectfully express curiosity about the history and lived experiences of others and will exchange ideas and beliefs in an open-minded way.

Justice 14. Students will recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics.

Action 17. Students will recognize their own responsibility to stand up to exclusion, prejudice and injustice.

Reading Strategies:

Comparing: Jaqueline Woodson said she was inspired to write this book after she wrote a poem for the book Brown Girl Dream. Read about it here: Evaluate the poetic elements, compare and contrast with The Day You Begin, and discuss the theme in the book and in the poem.

Character Analysis: Analyze and compare the ways each of the children are incorrectly measuring their self-worth. Analyze how the author intersects race, language, and socio-economic status.

Descriptive & figurative language: There are metaphors, similes and descriptive language throughout the text.

Book Details:
  • Fiction, All Ages
  • Perspectives: Diversity
  • Author's stated heritage: Black
  • Subject Integration: Math (measurement), Art, Geography

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain