We envision a future where people actively work to dismantle injustices and build a more peaceful, equitable world.

Rafael Lopez: Dare to Engage

Intermediate & Middle School Activity

Meet Rafael Lopez, contributor to ‘We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices’ and illustrator of the 2019 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award winning title for younger children, ‘The Day You Begin,’ authored by Jacqueline Woodson. View his joyful art.

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices
Rafael Lopez
The Day You Begin

Read a summary of the book

“There will be times when the world feels like a place that you’re standing all the way outside of.” Maybe no one understands “the way words curl from your mouth” in the language of home. Maybe the experiences you’ve had feel like nothing compared to others’, or the food you love is seen as strange, or “the game isn’t one you can ever really play.” The vivid sense of difference, and isolation, experienced by four children in the opening pages of this picture book invites all readers and listeners to consider the strength of “your own brave self…There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you until the day you begin to share your stories … this is the day you begin to find the places inside your laughter and your lunches, your books, your travel and your stories, where every new friend has something a little like you—and something else so fabulously not quite like you at all.” Buoyant mixed-media illustrations lend a celebratory feel to a book in which selfhood is triumphant. Highly Commended, 2019 Charlotte Zolotow Award

Learn More

Check out Rafael’s online portfolio!  Click on each piece for a closer and even more color-filled look. Which illustration most speaks to you? Below you will be invited to choose one of his pieces as a jumping-off spot for your own creativity!

Explore Rafael’s Writing Process for ‘The Day You Begin’. Be sure to scroll through and read the excerpted pages of the story.

Watch this book trailer.

Then watch and listen to author Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael speak about their own inspiration and vision as they accept the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for ‘The Day You Begin’…

Now Let’s Get to Next Steps!

Guiding questions for your reading, writing, thinking and acting:

Be an artist for peace right along with Rafael! Chose one image from his portfolio to extend with words. (Rafael’s Online Portfolio) Have fun with this! Maybe you’ll write lyrics for the Blues Singer’s song or a fantasy story about The Tiger’s Dream. Be sure your story has a message that connects differences and leads to some sort of common ground.

You are welcome to share your writing (be sure to include the name of the artwork that it was inspired by) in our comment section (comments will be approved & posted within 24 yours) or on social media #socialjusticelearnanddo

Rafael says, “Some people can be so different, yet beautifully similar to you. You need to dare to engage. You need to stop feeling afraid of feeling different.” He encourages us to ask that first question that will lead to conversation and finding common ground. Maybe you are able to reach out and communicate with someone who seems very different than you. Where would you start telling them about yourself? What would you like to ask? Go for it and see what happens. Dare to engage! Maybe you don’t have an opportunity to reach out because of the stay-at-home. Still, list a few people you know that seem very different than you. Write down where you would start telling them about yourself and what you would like to ask them. This is practice, tell yourself you will dare to engage with them and with others when the opportunity arises. And it will!

You are welcome to share your experience and thoughts about this activity in our comment section below (comments will be approved & posted within 24 yours) or on social media #socialjusticelearnanddo

We look forward to hearing from you! 

Jane Addams Peace Association