Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Other Side

Title: The Other Side

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis

Ages: 6-8

Grade Level: Kindergarten-2nd

Synopsis: The Other Side tells the story of a white girl, Annie and a black girl, Clover. They live on opposite sides of a fence that divides the black and white side of town. Clover's mother warns her not to climb over the fence when she plays. When she asks her mother why she replies, "Because that's the way things have always been." Annie sits on the fence every day and Clover wonders about this mysterious girl. One day Clover approaches Annie and they sit on the fence together. They spent the summer sitting together and gazing at the world around them. Annie even began to play with Clover and her friends. They all sit together on the fence and wonder about the day when the fence may be finally knocked down.

How this book represents element #3: I believe that social injustice is shown in this book because a fence is used to divide the two different races. The fact that Clover and Annie want to play with each other and do not worry that they are not supposed to shows that they support diversity. This book was written at a time when it was not okay for blacks and whites to be in contact with each other. I think this concept can teach children how society has grown from this barrier and that skin color does not make someone different. The last page of the book explains the hope that the children have for someday being able to be a part of each others world. "Someday somebody's going to come along and knock this old fence down," Annie said. And I nodded. "Yeah," I said. "Someday."

Activities: I would use this book to promote discussion and learn how children feel about the race barrier that once existed. While the book is being read, I would have the children write down ideas that stuck out to them. Depending on the grade I would do one of two things. If it was a Kindergarten level, I might have them put their hand prints onto paper. One hand would be black and the other hand would be white. Once the paint dries, they would write characteristics of Clover and Annie. If it was a 1st or 2nd grade class, I would have them create a before and after picture. The before would show how racism was seen in the past and the after would show how it is seen now. Finally they would write words around the border that describe how racism is shown throughout the picture.

The Other Side Activities

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for another great review of the book!

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