Title: The Other Side Author: Jacqueline Woodson Illustrator: E. B. Lewis Publisher: New York; G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Historical Fiction Level: Beginner Number of pages: 31 Pub. Date: 2001
The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson could be used a great promoter of social justice in the classroom. The book is the story of two young girls, one black and one white, during the time of segregation. Both girls’ mothers tell them not to cross the fence that divides the town because it is dangerous. Throughout the summer the two girls form a friendship, oblivious of skin color. The book ends on a positive note with both girls agreeing that someday the fence will be knocked down.
This book is set in the time period of segregation. There is a fence dividing the white and the black parts of town. However, the place and characters are made up. For this reason I believe that this book is a historical period piece. This book focuses on the social morals during the time period. For example, even though today segregation is frowned upon, in this book the parents don’t seem to think there is any problem with it.
I thought that this book was very useful for discussing the idea of segregation in the classroom. While the book never out right says that the town is segregated one can assume based on the fence that runs between the two properties. This segregation keeps the two girls from being friends at the beginning of the book but slowly they work toward unity. I think that the end of this book is the best part because it shows a hopeful look of the future.
Students will be split into two groups and each will write a short paragraph about what it is like to be on one side of the fence. Either black or white.