Book Review: The Day You Begin

I have to admit that when I first heard about The Day Your Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, I thought it was going to be just another “first day of school” picture book. I already have so many of those. Plus, I’m searching for inclusive books, not general picture books. Boy, was I wrong. In fact, I was hooked with the very first line:

The book then describes various ways in which a child might feel different from their classmates: skin, clothes, hair, or language, socioeconomic status, traditions, cultures, or physical abilities. It almost seems impossible that a children’s picture could address so many difficult topics in a way that children can understand. But Jacqueline did it, and did it well.Because I personally focus on advocating for those with disabilities, this page was particularly gratifying to see.

When Adella was around 5 years old, we went to a playground for a playdate. The other kids there were the same age but significantly taller, faster, and stronger than Adella. She tried her best to keep up with the other kids, but was struggling. Finally, she just stopped and watched them scramble up the climbing dome. I watched as her anger and frustration continued to build until she just yelled, “I can’t do it!” I immediately picked her up and drove home, both of us crying the whole way.

It was the first time we both had to fully confront that Adella is different. But it wasn’t the last time and each experience has left us a little stronger and a little more confident in knowing that we’re all different, in different ways. And that’s okay.

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