NITTY GRITTY DETAILS
- Title: On the Day You Were Born
- Author: Debra Frasier
- Illustrator: Debra Frasier
- Awards: Gold Parents’ Choice Award, NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for Children, Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
Brave women are a force to be reckoned with, and Debra Frasier, author of On the Day You Were Born, exemplifies that to a T. Her first novel, On the Day You Were Born was written while she was in the hospital during her first and only pregnancy. “Early in the pregnancy, when things were at their darkest, I asked a nurse at the hospital to bring me some paper so I could write down all the things on our earth that would welcome my daughter, if she would just get here” (Frasier, 2017). Pushing to find light in the darkness, Frasier refined her ideas and crafted them into her novel after the arrival of her healthy daughter.
An accomplished writer, Frasier is also an engaging speaker who knows how to enchant adults and children alike. Her love of words and art inspires those around her to write, draw, and create. She has always carried a journal with her as her “butterfly net,” and she recommends others do the same in case a moment of beauty captures their heart or words come together in their mind in a unique way. Having penned and illustrated eight of her own books and illustrated three books for other authors, Frasier seems to have an unending well of skill and passion for galvanizing young minds to play and love the world around them.
Frasier, Debra. (2017). About Debra Frasier, Author and Illustrator. Retrieved from:
On the Day You Were Born is about the world preparing for the reader’s birth. A myriad of animals tell one another about the upcoming baby.
Science plays a part in the party: “On the day you were born gravity’s strong pull held you to the Earth with a promise that you would never float away…” and the phases of the moon are touched upon and illustrated as well.
Nature is a key character in the book as the waves, clouds, beaches, trees, and sun work together to prepare for the baby. A feeling of inclusion gently embraces the reader on every page as the author takes him or her through the world’s efforts to welcome the new child. It isn’t until the last two pages that humans are introduced, and they are shown as a unified group: “On the day you were born the Earth turned, the Moon pulled, and the Sun flared, and, then, with a push, you slipped out of the dark quiet where suddenly you could hear a circle of people singing with voices familiar and clear.” Ultimately, the people and the world celebrate the newborn’s safe arrival.
There are many foci in this story:
- Picture book with words
- Social Studies
Imagery abounds in One the Day You Were Born, from descriptions of light to the details of a newborn, “new, tiny hands…wet, slippery body…open, curving ear.” At the same time, Frasier’s precise language keeps the story from feeling flowery or over the top.
TEACHING & LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
- Author’s Purpose: A unique example of second-person narration, the perspective creates a feeling of intimacy for the reader as it feels like Frasier is describing your birth and how the world welcomed you. “On the eve of your birth…While you waiting darkness…On the day you were born…” Why an author chooses second-person is often confusing to students, so having students rewrite the story in first or third person and then discuss how the feeling differs as a reader would reinforce the impact of second person point of view and the author’s purpose.
- Mentor Text: This would be an interesting addition to a creation myth study or identity unit. The thoughtful use of imagery allows it to not only be used for its thematic topics but for its writing style as well. Personally, I can see this book belonging in K-12 classrooms! I particularly like the idea of this book being in the hands of a middle schooler because it drives home the notion of you belong here! Middle schoolers are going through the biggest physical and hormonal change of their lives second to when they were conceived. It is a difficult time, and this book would enrich their lives by reminding them that the world is happy they are here, even if they don’t always see it.
WORDS OF CAUTION
Have your Kleenex box ready!
This book feels like a Native American story as it focuses on nature’s harmony with each other and with humans. Nature feels like a character in the book, and its cohesion and efforts to support the people’s child creates a universal feeling of balance and connection. Nature and land are shown as an intrinsic and interwoven part of life, and that life is separate from just humanity’s desires but a life of natural beauty and autonomy as well.
Family is shown to be not only the people in your life but the setting, both locally and beyond. On the last page of the book, the illustration shows a woman holding the baby while men and women dance around her. This refrains from limiting the narrative to a monogamous heterogenous relationship and allows the reader to make his or her own meaning.
Overall, On the Day You Were Born doesn’t support or reinforce any stereotypes in regards to race, religion, or sexual orientation. It does end with a woman holding a baby thereby stereotyping women as being the primary caretakers of a baby. The group of people dancing around the woman could also propagate the idea that a parent is always supported by others which is certainly not the case for many people.