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.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Other Side

Title: The Other Side
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis
Ages: 6-8
Grade Level: K-3

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About the book:
The Other Side is a wonderful and motivational book that portrays the "dividing line" that separated the blacks and whites in our country. Clover, a young black girl, spent her days wondering why there was a fence that divided the black side of town from the white side. She was unaware why it was there, all she knew was "that's the way things are." However, over the summer a white girl named Annie who lived on the white side, began coming closer to the fence. The two girls would study eachother from far away, until one day Annie, sat on the fence. Although neither of them were allowed to climb the fence, they begin to form a wonderful relationship from sitting on top of the fence together, as their two "worlds" join. The fence is a very subtle way to show children that friendship is able to overcome any barriers.

Element 5: Raising Awareness:
After reading this book, it became apparent that this book is a perfect book to read to children when discussing Element 5. This book very clearly raises awareness to the children about all of the struggles the blacks and whites used to be faced with. It shows the passion that these two girls had, and how they did not want to let a fence stand in the way of their friendship. It teaches children that they need to stand up for what is right and what they believe in. By sitting on the fence, the two girls share hopes that someday soon the fence will be knocked down, and the two "worlds" of people will be able to freely come together and enjoy eachother. It shows the beautiful innocence of children, and how they are able to look right past the color of one another, and try to make a difference for something that they believe so strongly in. They are raising awareness of the whole neighborhood, which is very motivational.
After reading this book, the class will be able to raise awareness to others about something they feel strongly about. Whether it be their religion, race, or something currently going on in the world, and they will discuss it with the class. Hopefully at this point, the book will have encouraged them to stand up for what they believe in, and try to raise awareness to others, like the young girls did, to make a change in our world. The class will also be able to pick a topic that they want to raise awareness in as a whole, and they will be able to come up with ways to try and help raise awareness, or even raise money to donate to a community or foundation to raise awareness.

Some Resources for the teacher:

Click here for another great review of the book!

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