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.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Other Side

Title: The Other Side
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
Grade Level: 1st - 4th

More Information About the Author
Buy This Book Here
Teacher Resource (Lesson)
Teacher Resource (DVD)


The Other Side, written by Jacqueline Woodson is a story that indirectly explains the struggles of  the segregation of blacks and whites in the southern portion of the United States before the Civil Rights movement. The setting of the story takes place during the summer months and is told by a young black girl named Clover. Clover is very interested in the fence that has been placed down the center of town and is confused as to why she can not cross it. Her mother explains that bad things will happen if she crosses the fence. As summer continues, Clover begins to notice a little white girl around her age that plays alone on the other side of this fence; she has even seen her in town. One afternoon the two girls work of the courage to converse. Clover finds out that the little white girls name is Annie. The two girls want so badly to play with one another; however, they are not allowed to cross to the other side of the fence. Annie suggests that the two girls sit on the top of the fence because no one ever said they couldn't.  So there they sat, talking and looking at the vast lands around them. Then Annie poses a very insightful question.

 "Someday somebody’s going to come along and knock this old fence down." Annie Said. And I nodded. "Yeah,’"I said. ‘Someday.

Element 3: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice

This book, by Jacqueline Woodson, completely encompasses the important lessons in Element 3. The story takes place in a southern state pre-Civil Rights Movement where the segregation of blacks and whites was very common and unquestioned by adults. Woodson, however, brings a child’s curious accepting perspective to the situation, allowing our students to learn and understand how racism affected children and adults alike during this time period. She also leaves it open to explain how different our lives are today because forward thinking people like Annie and Clover.


Some examples of activities to do before, during and after reading can be found by clicking the link above which says “Teachers Resources (Lessons)”. This link provides some helpful literary supplemental questions and strategies such as word lists, think-pair-share, Venn diagrams, character clusters, and important critical thinking questions.

Along with this helpful link other supplemental lessons can be introduced into the classroom. Other activities depending on grade level student can interview of family members who may remember a time when segregation still existed. This will allow an exploration into the subject a little deeper for the student and can become a fun family project as well. If the student’s parents are not from the United States then maybe they have a different story about segregation from their own countries. The possibilities of activities with this story really are endless. 

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