“The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson is a beautiful book to share at the beginning of the school year. The first days and weeks of school are so exciting, but can also bring a lot of different feelings for students. It may not always be filled with excitement and Woodson perfectly captures the difficulty of entering the room when you do not know anyone or when you feel different.
It is a great story to read to get to know students, to build a community where all are welcome in your classroom, and to help students feel comfortable telling their own stories.
“The Day You Begin” lends itself to a lot of great classroom discussions. Many students can connect to the character or empathize with her. And while you get to know your students, building friendships and relationships plays an important role in your classroom environment.
This is a perfect starting point for some important discussions with students:
- the importance of diversity and inclusion
- creating a welcoming classroom community
- recognizing your own personal strengths and abilities
- building friendships and relationships
- pride in personal values and cultures
Book Companion Activities
There are so many amazing discussions as well as activities that you do with your students when you read “The Day You Begin.”
Reading to children is one of the single largest predictors for higher academic achievement. Students are exposed to a variety of text, vocabulary, writing styles, and more. Reading a book gives students so many opportunities and opens so many discussions. YOU are giving them these experiences by opening a book and reading.
Each of these activities is meant to build character, empathy, self-love, and help students connect to their own feelings and experiences. These activities will encourage students to think, write, and react.
Identifying your own strengths
Students can identify qualities about themselves that are unique. The book talks about how “no one in the room is quite like you,” and that can feel overwhelming for students. Building up your strengths and honoring your unique qualities is so important.
Identifying your feelings
There are SO many feelings throughout the book. And recognizing and understanding our feelings is a great way to begin the year in your classroom. Students can tell about a time that they felt on the outside of something. Recognizing and connecting to the character in this way can be eye-opening for students too. Students can also think about how they can welcome someone that feels on the outside. When they remember the feeling of being on the outside, they can also begin to think about how it would feel to be welcomed.
Students can identify qualities of a good friend as well as things to ask or say to get to know someone better. Having conversations about how to be a friend and get to know new friends can help students that are feeling uneasy.
“The Day You Begin” will always be one of my favorite beginning of the year read-aloud books. I hope you and your students love it too!
You can grab a guide for using it in your classroom here:
You can find more of my favorite beginning of the year read-aloud books HERE.
And read more about why I think reading aloud is so important HERE.
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You can find the book, “The Day You Begin” HERE. This is an affiliate link.