Parents' Guide to

The Day You Begin

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Encouraging advice for kids who feel excluded or less than.

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This sensitive and emotionally astute book about kids feeling like outsiders addresses kids directly, like welcome advice from a trusted elder, encouraging kids to "share your stories." In The Day You Begin, the prose is poetic but accessible. A teacher pronounces a boy's name "so soft and beautifully that your name and homeland sound like flowers blooming the first bright notes of a song." A girl admires "a jar filled with tiny shells so fragile, they look like they'll turn to dust in your own untraveled hands." Yet the text is never out of reach, and the situations are carefully chosen to be ones kids will relate to -- for instance, not getting picked for a team or hesitating to share in class.

The illustrations by Rafael López fit the text perfectly and are just as welcoming. The art depicts and celebrates kids of different races. On many pages, López also includes a looming measuring stick, which seems to represent the way kids feel they measure up or not. This very inviting art extends a friendly hand just as the kids in the story do.

Book Details

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