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Jacqueline Woodson

Picture Books

the day you begin book cover

The Day You Begin

There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. So what are you going to do?

Where it takes place:

It takes place every single day all over the world.

Where I wrote it:

Right here in Brooklyn and while I was traveling around the country.

el dia en que descubres quien eres  spanish version
Why I wrote it:

It was inspired by this poem in Brown Girl Dreaming:

it’ll be scary sometimes

My great-great-grandfather on my father’s side
was born free in Ohio,


Built his home and farmed his land,
then dug for coal when the farming
wasn’t enough. Fought hard
in the war. His name in stone now
on the Civil War Memorial:

William J. Woodson
United States Colored Troops,
Union, Company B 5th Regt.

A long time dead but living still
among the other soldiers
on that monument in Washington, D.C.

His son was sent to Nelsonville
lived with an aunt

William Woodson
the only brown boy in an all-white school.

You’ll face this in your life someday,
my mother will tell us
over and over again.
A moment when you walk into a room and

no one there is like you.

It’ll be scary sometimes. But think of William Woodson
and you’ll be all right.

  • Jane Addams Peace Association
  • 2019 Winner Book for Younger Children
  • 2019 Floyd’s Pick Book Award Winner
Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is an American writer of books for adults, children, and adolescents. She is best known for her National Book Award-Winning memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, and her Newbery Honor-winning titles After Tupac and D Foster, Feathers, and Show Way. Her picture books The Day You Begin and The Year We Learned to Fly were NY Times Bestsellers. After serving as the Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017, she was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress for 2018–19. She was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 2020. Later that same year, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.