Jacqueline Woodson’s upcoming book is a moving letter to kids who feel alone
There are some days when you feel like you just don’t fit in.
Fortunately, for anybody struggling with feeling alone, acclaimed author and newly appointed National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jacqueline Woodson is back with The Day You Begin, a new picture book, illustrated by Rafael López, to remind you to stay confident, even when you feel misunderstood.
When the book was first announced in December 2017, much of the story remained a mystery. We knew the title and that it was inspired by a poem from Woodson’s National Book Award-winning novel Brown Girl Dreaming, and that was about it.
The Day You Begin is a moving letter of encouragement to kids who feel alone. The book opens with a somber reflection that many of us can relate to: “There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you.” From there, we follow a series of students who feel like they stand out and don’t fit in with their classmates.
But despite the multitude of reasons for feeling misunderstood the book outlines, The Day You Began started with an observation from Woodson’s own past.
“The Day You Begin started with a poem in Brown Girl Dreaming about my great grandfather who was the only black child in an all-white school,” Woodson told Mashable. “My mom used to tell us there’d be moments when we walked into a room and no one there was like us. I’ve walked into those rooms many times during my childhood and beyond so I had the sense that this was true of most people and began writing the story.”
And from that experience, Woodson has crafted a beautiful letter of encouragement for anybody who feels misunderstood and alone with The Day You Begin.
“There will be times when the world feels like a place that you’re standing all the way outside of… and all that stands beside you is your own brave self — steady as steel and ready even though you don’t know what you’re ready for,” the book champions.
A Spanish-language edition of the book will be released in tandem with the English version. “I think it’s important for people of the Latinx communities to have stories published in their native languages just as we English readers get to enjoy books published in English,” Woodson explained.
And for anybody who may be struggling with confidence, Woodson has one final word of advice: “Reading can be a way of belonging. To open a book and see some part of yourself on the page makes you realize you are not alone, that somewhere in the world, maybe pretty close by, is something who feels, thinks, sees the world as you do.”
The Day You Begin is out on bookshelves on August 28, 2018.