Monday, January 29, 2007

The Other Side

The Other Side by by Jacqueline Woodson is an educational book with amazing, life-like illustrations that assist the story in captivating the reader. It is about an African American and White girl who each live on their respective sides of a fence but can not stop wondering about each other even though they know they are not allowed to cross over the fence. Soon enough the girls begin to speak to each other and immediately become best friends. They even find a very clever way to abide by the rules of the fence by sitting on the fence, neither crossing to the other side. They spend the entire summer up on the fence, talking and sharing their lives with one another hoping that one day, someone will come and knock the fence down.
I was drawn to this book because of the interesting way that the author uses the fence as a central metaphor for the bigger issue of segregation. It is a story of the era of segregation through the eyes of children which engages young readers of today. The illustrations are also very beautiful and realistic. I feel like this book is a wonderful way to introduce the issue of segregation and Civil Rights in a classroom.
I would use this book to launch a unit on segregation and Civil Rights in my classroom. Students can explore the many different ways that segregation influenced the people of that time period and how, although said to have ended years ago, continues in our society today. I would encourage my students to think about when in their lives have they felt like the characters in this book. What do they feel or have felt is between them and another person in their life or between them and the achievement of their dreams?
This book is also an excellent example of poetic language and imagery. It can be used to teach students about how authors use metaphors, similes and symbols in literature to achieve a certain goal and outcome in their readers minds.
The Other Side fits into three of the five Stages of Social Justice. Students learn Respect for Others through understanding the struggles faced by African Americans during the years of segregation and continuing afterward. Through this book students can also Explore Issues of Social Justice such as racism and the negative and long lasting effects it has had on our society. Lastly, students will learn about Social Movements and Social Change through the study of the Civil Rights Movements and the leaders responsible and involved in this movement.
This book can connect to many curricular units such as segregation, as mentioned before. Civil Rights, the laws and movement. Brown vs. Board and the issue of desegregating schools. It can also be used to analyze where we stand today in regards to segregation, civil rights and racism.
Below are a few links to lesson plans and activities that can branch out from The Other Side:

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