speech and language teaching concepts for The Day You Begin in speech therapy​ ​
Frequent Speech Sounds:

/th/ initial
/air/ final
/l/ initial and final
/t/ initial


back to school
sharing our story

Book Details:
Diverse Characters: Yes
Age Recommendation: Elementary, Late Elementary

The Day You Begin

By Jacqueline Woodson

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

This sweet back to school book can be used in speech therapy to address social/emotional issues like acceptance and fitting in. It is also great for noticing character expressions and for targeting figurative language as well as for /th/, /air/, /l/ and /t/ sounds! Discover more of the speech and language teaching concepts for using The Day You Begin in speech therapy below:

Key Teaching Concepts

Narrative Structure:

descriptive sequence​

Narrative Concepts:

illustration study​
figurative language​
text features​


begin, quite, country, language, Venezuela, homeland, France, Maine, fragile, souvenir, triumph, journey, unfamiliar, brave, steady


The characters show us the obstacles they face and feelings of inadequacy compared to their American classmates. In the end, the characters find each other and school is a little less scary. They also realize the importance of sharing their own stories and embracing each others similarities and differences.

Figurative Language:

personification (world opens itself up a little wider, heat wave lifted up the curb)
similes (
steady as steel, feels like a place that you’re standing all the way outside of, sound like flowers blooming the first bright notes of a song)

Text Features:



How does it feel to be new in class?
How does it feel to be different from others? Have you ever felt different?
Why do you think ones voice might be smaller when the teacher calls on them?
How does she feel about her summer experience?
How does she feel about her lunch?
What do the other students think about it?
How does it feel trying to be included?
Why is it important to be brave in new situations?
Why is her voice stronger than a minute ago?
What do you think she realized at the end?

If you are interested in seeing other back to school books to use in therapy, then check out the Narrative Teaching Points Book List for a printable copy.