A child is never too young for a conversation about being different.
It is a life-long heart-to-heart that goes beyond any pages of a book.
It is a familial conversation that begins at home where our children listen and learn from their parents' school of thought and (hopefully) start to develop their own.
It is a personal conversation that continues throughout our lives as we - consistently and courageously - keep reevaluating whether our belief system still mirrors the human truth.
Finally, it is a collective conversation that asks us to encourage one another to raise our voices and share our stories in order to see the real beauty that lies within our differences.
Inspired by her great-great-grandfather's life (William J. Woodson was the only black student in his classroom in Ohio), Woodson lovingly addresses "the many ways we walk into rooms and feel like we don't belong there."
In the story, we meet characters who are all very different from one another which makes them feel uncomfortable at first. As the readers turn page after page of this beautifully illustrated book, we find the characters acknowledging their differences and starting to see them for what they truly are: unique treasures upon which friendships are built.
The Day You Begin lovingly encourages readers to move past this uncomfortable feeling we all know too well when we are amongst people who are different from us and asked us to raise our voices and share our personal stories. Woodson's message is clear: only by being our authentic selves and hearing others speak their truth, and learning from them, will we be able to understand one another better, appreciate one another more, and love one another more deeply.
This is a meaningful (and necessary) book for anyone who has ever felt left out, scared to raise their voice, or reveal their true self. This is a book for all of us.
PS: Read more about 'The Day You Begin' in the Time with Kids interview with Jaqueline Woodson here. And if you would like to continue this conversation at home with your children, below are some questions upon which to reflect:
☆ Have you ever walked into a room full of pf people who seemed different than you?
☆ How did you feel?
☆ What made you feel that way?
☆ What is something that makes you unique?
☆ How might people with differences in ability, culture, race, gender, or wealth feel when they are in a group that seems different from them?