The Day You Begin by Jacquelin Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez || El Dia en Que Descubres Quien Eres por Jacqueline Woodson, illustrado por Rafael Lopez

I’m delighted to join the blog tour for The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez.  Gorgeous, uplifting, and inclusive are just a few of the words that come to mind after reading this wonderful book about bravely moving forward even when you feel singularly separate from everyone else.  It’s a great selection for any child or classroom as they start school.  And in the spirit of this fabulous book, here are 10 ways to be brave in the new school year.  These are intended for discussion with kids, but I’m sure some of us adults would benefit from trying a few of these too!


  1. WHEN YOU SEE SOMEONE LEFT OUT, INVITE THEM TO JOIN YOU  Perhaps they don’t have any friends. Perhaps they are shy.  Maybe they want to be alone, but maybe they don’t.  Maybe they’ll become your best friend.  No matter what, kindness and inclusion are always good policies.
  2. TRY A NEW FOOD  If your friend brings a food to school that you’ve never tasted, ask to give it a try.*  You may not recognize it.  You may not know how to say it.  But you may just love the way it tastes!  *If you have a food allergy, ask a guardian first.


    There will be times when the lunch your mother packed for you is too strange or too unfamiliar for others to love as you do.

  3. SPEAK UP WHEN YOU SEE SOMEONE BEING TREATED BADLY  If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.  If only some people are laughing, it’s not a funny joke.  If only some people are having fun, it’s not a good game.  Don’t be a silent observer when you see someone being treated badly.  Be the person that suggests a different topic of conversation or a different game.
  4. TRY A NEW SPORT OR ACTIVITY  Every year we grow and learn new things, which builds new skills and talents.  If you find yourself interested in something new, give it a try!  You might not be very good at it.  You might be fantastic at it.  You might love it or hate it.  One thing’s for sure — you’ll never know until you try.
  5. SIT WITH SOMEONE NEW  It’s always great to spend time with people you enjoy.  But you might miss out on a wonderful new friend if you always spend time with the same people.  This year be the person that sits with the new kid.  Join someone sitting alone at lunch.  Try sitting with someone you recognize but haven’t really talked to much.  You might meet your new best friend!


    There will be times when the world feels like a place that you’re standing all the way outside of . . .

  6. RAISE YOUR HAND AND SPEAK CONFIDENTLY WHEN YOU KNOW THE ANSWER  When you answer questions, you practice what you know and remember it better in the future.  When you share your knowledge, you help other kids learn too.  And if you find you don’t really know the answer, then you learn something new!
  7. RECOGNIZE OTHERS WHEN THEY’VE DONE A GOOD JOB  If you see someone do something well (i.e. get the correct answer, make a great art project, score a goal) tell them, “Good job!”  Recognizing their achievement will never detract from your own, but it will help create a community where everyone supports each other’s efforts and accomplishments.
  8. CHOOSE NOT TO LAUGH WHEN JOKES ARE MADE AT SOMEONE ELSE’S EXPENSE  Laughing at someone else’s expense tells them you don’t care about their feelings.  When you choose not to laugh, you say the opposite; you tell them that you value them too much to laugh at the expense of their feelings.   And you might just help your friends learn which kinds of jokes are truly funny, and which are not.


    This is the day you begin to find the places inside your laughter and your lunches, your books, your travel and your stories, where every new friend has something a little like you — and something else so fabulously not quite like you at all.

  9. WEAR WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY EVEN WHEN IT’S NOT POPULAR   If you love an outfit, you’ll feel happy and confident when you wear it.  If you only wear it because someone else likes it, you might feel happy if they compliment you but won’t feel like yourself.  The best path toward true happiness is always being yourself.  And being confidently yourself by wearing what you love will help others be more confident in their unique selves too!
  10. RAISE YOUR HAND AND SPEAK CONFIDENTLY WHEN YOU HAVE A QUESTION  School is a place to learn, and you wouldn’t be there if you had all the answers.  You also won’t learn what you need to know if you don’t ask any questions.  There are no wrong questions, and your example will help others have courage to ask their own questions.