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Visiting Day

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Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson has written a poignant picture book about a little girl who waits hopefully for her father's release from prison.

Only on visiting day is there chicken frying in the kitchen at 6 a.m. And Grandma in her Sunday dress, humming soft and low... As the little girl and her grandmother get ready for visiting day, her father, who adores her, is getting ready, too. The community of families who take the long bus ride upstate to visit loved ones share hope and give comfort to each other. Love knows no boundaries. Here is a story of strong families who understand the meaning of unconditional love.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2001

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About the author

Jacqueline Woodson

77 books8,523 followers
I used to say I’d be a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing.

I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories across sidewalks and penciled tiny tales in notebook margins. I loved and still love watching words flower into sentences and sentences blossom into stories.

I also told a lot of stories as a child. Not “Once upon a time” stories but basically, outright lies. I loved lying and getting away with it! There was something about telling the lie-story and seeing your friends’ eyes grow wide with wonder. Of course I got in trouble for lying but I didn’t stop until fifth grade.

That year, I wrote a story and my teacher said “This is really good.” Before that I had written a poem about Martin Luther King that was, I guess, so good no one believed I wrote it. After lots of brouhaha, it was believed finally that I had indeed penned the poem which went on to win me a Scrabble game and local acclaim. So by the time the story rolled around and the words “This is really good” came out of the otherwise down-turned lips of my fifth grade teacher, I was well on my way to understanding that a lie on the page was a whole different animal — one that won you prizes and got surly teachers to smile. A lie on the page meant lots of independent time to create your stories and the freedom to sit hunched over the pages of your notebook without people thinking you were strange.

Lots and lots of books later, I am still surprised when I walk into a bookstore and see my name on a book’s binder. Sometimes, when I’m sitting at my desk for long hours and nothing’s coming to me, I remember my fifth grade teacher, the way her eyes lit up when she said “This is really good.” The way, I — the skinny girl in the back of the classroom who was always getting into trouble for talking or missed homework assignments — sat up a little straighter, folded my hands on the desks, smiled and began to believe in me.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 291 reviews
Profile Image for Nancy.
124 reviews10 followers
June 27, 2007
This is a realistic story about a part of many children's lives. Visiting a relative in prison is something that many children have to do and this story illustrates what a little girl and her grandmother do to prepare for that visit. It is a loving story that tells the reader this may not be your story but this is part of what makes America. Bravo Jacqueline Woodson and James Ransome for telling this story so beautufully, I have sat in that room while waiting entrance to do jail ministry and I see the faces of children that come in excitedly to see their loved one for that monthly visit. Thanks for making these children feel that they are not alone.
Profile Image for Genee121.
81 reviews4 followers
May 28, 2014
Well done Jacqueline Woodson and James E. Ransome for a story that I'm certain many families can relate to including myself. I too can remember making the long drive with my two sisters and my mom to visit my dad who was incarcerated when I was just three years old. Of course, it was not until I was much older that I truly understood why we had to go visit daddy and why he never came home with us. Thank you to the both of you for being so bold to write and illustrate about a topic that can be so difficult and emotional for many to speak about openly. I would definitely encourage teachers, social workers, counselors (people that work with children) to purchase a copy of this book. This beautiful realistic story is about how a little girl and her grandmother prepare for a monthly visit to see her dad who is "doing time" in prison. The story also touches on showing kindness to a neighbor, Mrs. Tate who's son is also "doing time" at the same prison as the young girls father and cannot afford to make the bus ride to see him but asks grandma if she'd take her presents with her.

The enjoyed the illustrations used for this story, bright beautiful colors. They made me feel as though I was a part of them. I felt like I was right there in the kitchen with grandma frying chicken for the bus ride to share with others making the trip too. My favorite photo is of the little girl sitting on her father's lap telling him everything that has happened since the last time she saw him, while he smiles big at her and pulls on her braids. Ransome does an awesome job in capturing the characters emotions in the illustrations. For example, the photo when visiting day is over and the young girl watches as her dad as he gets ready to turn and disappear through an open door again until their next visit.

I would definitely read this book aloud to my students. I believe this is definitely an engaging book that would spark conversation for days!
Profile Image for Ekollon.
475 reviews44 followers
December 28, 2018
This book is one of my absolute favorite children's picture books of all time. I will fight for this book. It is wonderful beyond all bearing. It is the children's book that taught me that children's books can handle serious issues, and not just in a symbolic, metaphorical way, but straightforwardly and honestly.

This is a book about a young African American girl whose father is either in jail or in prison (it is not clear which). She lives with her grandmother, and the story is about the girl going to visit him. The story is beautifully done, handling the serious issue in a way that doesn't minimize what is going on but is also child appropriate (it won't make the child feel worse after reading the book). The book will help to provide any child who does have an incarcerated parent (especially an African American child) with a reference point to see themselves with, so that they understand that they are no alone in their experiences, and will help them to see a way for dealing with what is going on. For a child who doesn't have an incarcerated parent, it will provide a way for seeing how others who do live in such a situation are experiencing their life.

Children's books aren't just about helping children learn how to read (although that is certainly a part of it), but also helping them to learn to navigate their experiences and their lives. Books provide both children and their caregivers tools for working through tricky and emotional situations. This book is a gem for that, and I cannot praise it enough.
Profile Image for Valerie.
52 reviews
September 28, 2009
A young African American girl reflects on her preparation for, visit with, and feelings following her monthly visit to see her incarcerated father. The anticipation of the visit, the smiling faces throughout it, and the hopefulness following the visit, depicted a strong family bond between mother-son-and (grand)daughter, demonstrating love and optimism.

A Thoughtful Review:
I was thoroughly surprised and touched by this text. The African American culture is brought to life through images of family and a true "insiders" perspective: fried chicken with Grandma, hair-braiding, photographs throughout the house, sharing meals with friends/family, and even language. The topic in itself is quite controversial: visiting an incaricrated parent in jail, however, Woodson shares in the Author/Illustrator note at the back of the book that this story is based on true events from her life, visiting her uncle while he was in prison. She tells a story of culture, love and optimism, without sugar-coating the topic itself.
March 21, 2017
I think this book did a wonderful job of portraying what it is like to have a loved one that is incarcerated, which can be a bleak subject for some. Unlike the traditional family set up in most books, this book shows the daughter living with her grandmother, father incarcerated, and I am unsure of the mother. The only complaint I had was that this book perpetuates the stereotype that all African American families have a loved one that is incarcerated. However, I took the complaint back because this book could have based on the author's own personal experience. The language is easy to follow and descriptive. The illustrations are also pleasing.

I think kids would enjoy this book especially if they can relate to it. Even if the kids cannot relate, I think they can understand that a caregiver is always going to love his or her kid despite any situation.

75 reviews1 follower
October 19, 2022
Visiting Day was such a good story by describing it how it would be for many children's lives. It was about a young African American girl visiting her father. She gets so excited every time she visits him because she can then tell him everything that has happened to her in that month. I would include this book in my classroom because it explains what some children have to go through.
Profile Image for Jordyn Hunter.
4 reviews
January 18, 2020
The book, 𝑉𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝐷𝑎𝑦 by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James E. Ransome was told through the point of view of a little girl whose father was an inmate in jail. The day that was illustrated in the book was the one day out of the month that she got to go visit him with her grandma. I enjoyed that this book offered a sense of realism of things that go on within our community everyday. Many people go through these things and to see it in the eyes of a young girl made it easier to express sympathy. This book is an excellent choice and I recommend it to all readers.
Profile Image for Jen.
6 reviews3 followers
February 3, 2013
I think that this book is very important for all children to read. In addition to being beautifully written and illustrated, this book tells about the reality of many children with a parent who is incarcerated. Reading this book with a child/children, one can begin a conversation about how a child might feel if their parent were absent and incarcerated for a significant period of time, how some whose loved ones are incarcerated cannot afford to visit them, and how the children of an incarcerated person should not be judged based on their family situation. I believe that children who have no experience with this can become compassionate toward children who do by having this type of conversation and therefore replacing/challenging our stereotypes about the identity and humanity of incarcerated people. I also recommend learning more about children with incarcerated parents (especially if you will teach this in a class). A good starting place is http://www.getonthebus.us/ which is an organization that provides annual transportation to visit and moral support for children who cannot otherwise visit their parents for various reasons. I was educated a great deal just by reading their website.
Profile Image for Kaysen Skalnik.
5 reviews1 follower
October 30, 2017
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was based on the segregation time period, which has always interested me. I think the book did a great job of depicting what life truly was like for families, especially children, during such a historical, difficult time period. I enjoyed feeling the reactions of the main character throughout the book as her excitement built, and then the feeling of happiness when "Visiting Day" finally cam for her. I also loved the vivid imagery and pictures throughout the book. The pictures told the story.

I also loved this book from a teacher's perspective. It is one that I could definitely see in my classroom one day. This is a book that I could use for a Social Studies lesson in an upper grade (3-6) to teach about the segregation time period. It is great to share with students because it is written from a child's perspective and can really allow students/readers to see what regular, everyday life was like for people then.
Profile Image for Paul  Hankins.
770 reviews275 followers
May 27, 2012
With her grandmother's love and guidance, a young girl looks forward to visiting her father while he is "doing time" in prison. Woodson's writing here presents in a powerful way a reality for many children as Father's Day approaches.

The subject matter is not sugar-coated here. There is a neighbor across the hall who cannot afford to make the trip and instead passes her gifts to the grandmother who delivers them.

A uniformed officer stands in the background as the visit ends.

The crime is not described here and for this no judgments should be assumed or passed in this story. This one is about the children left behind who write letters and draw pictures and wait for the next Visiting Day.

End notes for this book are particularly poignant as Woodson dedicates this book to a favorite uncle who came under similar circumstances.
Profile Image for Amy Baric.
20 reviews
December 10, 2012
A girl is getting ready with excitement to see her father while he also is preparing for her visit. The girl’s father is “doing time” in a prison. The book does not go into depth about why her father is in prison, but it focuses on the relationship between a father and daughter.
At a camp where I worked, most of the children had one or both parent in prison. No matter what their parents did, they still felt loyalty and love toward that person. Children need to learn that it’s ok to love and miss their parents. They are not always aware of how detrimental the reality of their situation is, but they do still dream of the day when they will be with their mom or dad again. We can’t know what will happen to these kids, but we can help them understand that their parents are not worthless or failures because of their mistakes.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
69 reviews3 followers
March 17, 2008
Very sensitively portrayed story about a girl visiting her father in jail with her grandma. Focuses on the love in the family while showing the details of the jail. The point of view of the girl is so beautifully and realistically depicted.

Woodson's stories exude so much love for her characters. As I read these stories and how she writes them it feel like it's love -- our love for the people close to us, no matter what the context, that is what ultimately helps us rise through the ashes and flames of our lives to draw out and experience the pheonixes of our lives.

Jaqueline Woodson is my hero.
Profile Image for (NS)Jordyn.
45 reviews
October 29, 2009
By far, this is one of the most well written stories about such a difficult and tabu subject that touches so many families. Woodson and Ransome (illustrator) tell this story through a vivid series of words and pictures that are so much deeper than this simple text first lets on. The reader is brought into a little girl's world as she prepares, with her grandma, to go visit her father in prison. As a reader, I felt invited into the community that is created by the families of these incarcerated men. The author and illustrators notes add a most touching and personal feel to the story! Recommended for students between the ages of K-2.
Profile Image for Erica Roberson.
30 reviews
March 14, 2012
This book was a great breath of fresh air. I though it really captured the social issue of absent parents. The girl's father is in jail and the mother is absent; she lives with her grandmother. The created family ties are also shown when the neighbor brings presents for her son in jail and also when the grandmother and girl share their food with strangers on the bus. I have never read a book about jail and I think that this is important to have in the classroom because it shows a lot of issues that some students might be dealing with. It could also help to explain these sort of hardships that children are addressing to other children.
10 reviews
October 11, 2015
This book was a very well-written and culturally rich story. It is about a girl who goes with her grandma every month to visit her dad in prison. It focuses more on the positives instead of the negatives, like how happy the little girl is when she visits her daddy or when she spends special moments with her grandma, "we can sit out back bundled up in blankets and make each other laugh as we make big plans for when Daddy comes home again." The illustrations are gorgeous and thoughtfully show emotions and match up perfectly with the story. The book also has a very personal feel to it, the author wrote of her experience as a little girl who had a father in prison.
Profile Image for HeavyReader.
2,247 reviews14 followers
December 27, 2008
WOW! This is the story of a little girl who takes the bus with her grandmother to visit her daddy in prison. Reading it made me cry, thinking about all the kids who have loved ones in prison, many of them never getting to visit.

The illustrations are beautiful, all bold colors. The story is sad, but the ending is hopeful.

If I knew a kid whose dad was in prison, I would buy this book for her or him.
April 4, 2012
Inspired by her own experiences visiting her Uncle, Woodson tells the story of a young girl who travels by bus, once a month, with her grandmother to visit her father in prison. The illustrations capture the anticipation and excitement of the visit and the lingering sadness that follows after the visit. This is both a positive and difficult experience for children and I am sure that many sure can relate to the mix of emotions that are felt on a visiting day.
Profile Image for Kathy Whitmore.
80 reviews1 follower
July 29, 2020
Thank goodness for authors like Woodson who are willing to write their lives into the pages of books with beautiful words and real stories. This particular picture book invites many children and adults in my community to take risks sharing their lives, stories, and identities when they would otherwise be silenced and othered.
Profile Image for Juliana Lee.
2,239 reviews33 followers
November 16, 2016
Serious but hopeful. Once a month the little girl and her grandmother visit her daddy in jail. It's heartwarming and shows the love in the family. And grandma reminds the girl that this is just for awhile and someday they will see daddy back home.
Profile Image for Correna Dillon.
145 reviews12 followers
November 23, 2020
This story is about a girl and her grandmother as they get ready for visiting day at the local prison. The grandmother makes fried chicken and they board a bus that takes them to the prison. On the bus, the folks on the bus share food; cornbread, fried chicken, and sweet potato pie. The book expresses the anticipation, the excitement, and the love they share with the father who is serving his sentence. The book also shows the hurt after leaving. This young girl is reassured by her grandmother that this won’t last forever, but she still misses her father. The author, Jaqueline Woodson, wrote this book inspired by her own childhood spent visiting her beloved favorite uncle in prison.
46 reviews
September 29, 2021
This story is very heartwarming. I love how Jacqueline makes light of this story because it could have been a depressing scenario. Also, Jacqueline is very descriptive in her stories therefore, it gives the readers a better picture to paint. The words radiates emotion and it makes you feel good. Also, I like how Jacqueline makes a story that some kids can relate too. I do not see many books that talk about kids parents in jail. I think its great that other kids that parents are not in jail get to have an insight on other kids scenarios.
97 reviews
March 20, 2022
I enjoyed this book. Before reading, I thought about your questions, who is visiting, and what does visiting day mean? I didn't really think in the right direction when answering this question; I thought maybe she was going to visit her grandparents or friends. I did not think she was going to visit her father in jail. At the beginning of the book, it did not seem as if she was visiting a prison. I loved how the author finally gave clues through the illustrations and words to explain that he was in jail, but it did not matter to her. She was visiting her father; that's all that mattered. Her mother is also not present throughout the story, only her grandmother. So, it leaves the reader guessing and also shows why she loves her father so much.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Stacey.
398 reviews
March 20, 2019
While reading this story, one thing that struck me is how the words or the images could both stand alone to tell the story, but the fact that they are together provides a deeper level of understanding of the emotions and experiences of the characters. I requested this book from the library because I want to read more Woods on, but I am now going to have to request a bunch of books illustrated by Ransome.
21 reviews1 follower
September 27, 2023
This book was very moving. It was a good story about how a little girl and her grandma go to visit her dad in prison. It talks about the reunion of the dad and girl. I could use this book in my future classroom to talk about how important family is. The illustrations are very good too and I enjoyed the book.
Profile Image for Stacie.
1,906 reviews
April 25, 2018
What a gift the author and illustrator gave the world with this book! I was moved deeply by the young girl’s family life - especially knowing there are 1000s of children going through the same hard times with a parent incarcerated
April 5, 2018
Another realistic story. I'm glad that stories like this are out in the world for children to be introduced too.
Profile Image for Sammie.
7 reviews
July 1, 2021
Visiting Day is one of my favorites. I have read Woodson’s books before but this one always hits close to home. It shows the reality of the lives of some of our students. Definitely will read again!
Profile Image for Set.
1,566 reviews
November 21, 2022
This story is truly sad. I used to miss my daddy and chastise him for working a 9 to 5 job. It's hard for children that have incarcerated fathers and are missing that father figure for long periods of time.
240 reviews1 follower
December 21, 2017
I love Jacqueline Woodson's books - picture books and fiction titles!
Profile Image for Emma VanBuskirk.
16 reviews
November 23, 2022
Visiting Day, by Jacqueline Woodson, is a realistic fiction book about a girl going to visit her Daddy. The story keeps you hooked on finding out where her Daddy is until the climax when it reveals that she is going to visit him in prison. This is a great book for children to be able to see themselves in if they have experienced something like this or know someone who may be in prison. The back matter includes an author's and illustrator's note, explaining that they have both experienced visiting a family member in prison.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 291 reviews

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