Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Other Side by Jaqueline Woodson

Summary: The Other Side by Jaqueline Woodson is an inspiring story of two young girls from different walks of life. Clover is a young African American girl who has always wondered why her town is divided into two sections, a black section and a white section, by a large fence. Clover’s mother always warned her never to cross the fence because it “wasn’t safe.” However, one summer Clover noticed that a young Caucasian girl in a pink sweater would climb up on the fence and sit there all alone. As time went on Clover became more and more curious about this girl and why she sat on the fence. One day she walked up to the fence and the girl asked what her name was. The girls spoke and Clover discovered that Annie Paul lived on the other side of the fence and that her mom told her not to go over the fence just as Clover’s mother had told her. As the summer wore on Clover and Annie Paul got to know each other better, spent a lot of time sitting together on the fence, and wished that someday someone would knock it down.

Reflections: I really enjoyed reading this book and think that it is an excellent resource to be used in all classrooms. This book displays the issue of segregation, the ways in which racist ideals become engrained in children from their parents, as well as how the next generation can make the choice to go against the grain, challenge the beliefs and fears of their parents and elders, and find out about others for themselves. I really loved the fact that within this text we saw two different girls who were brought up to have certain feelings about one another challenge those beliefs and reach out to each other in an effort to not only learn more but to create a bridge between two peoples who were so clearly divided. Rarely do we see a text in which a child takes the power into their own hands so to speak and decides to be responsible for their own beliefs by investigating “the other,” challenging the status quo, and finding that their efforts have led them to discover that challenging authority can be a wonderful thing!

How I would use this book/curricular units: This text would be great to discuss the Civil Rights Movement and segregation, what they were, how they began, and how they ended. In addition, this book could be used to discuss racism and classism and issues related to both. The students can talk about instances of racism and/or classism that they have experienced and how that made them feel in addition to how they would have preferred the other person reacted to them. The teacher can also create an activity to demonstrate segregation, racism, or classism by dividing the class into two groups based on a random trait, treating each side differently, and stating that students on one side were not to talk to, play with, look at, or share materials with the students on the other side of the class. The teacher could then use this experience as a reference point for discussion in which the students share how they feel and compare and contrast their experience to the experiences of Clover and Annie Paul in the text. Finally, this book can be used to discuss social justice and they ways in which social justice is reached through challenging certain ideas and standing up for what you believe in at any age.

Elements of Social Justice Education: 1) Self-love and Acceptance: Students will learn to love themselves for who they are and where they come from. They will see in the text how Clover and Annie Paul loved themselves for who they were and where they came from and accepted each other even though it was not the “popular” thing to do. 2) Respect for Others: Students will learn to investigate other people and cultures and appreciate them for what they are just as Clover and Annie Paul did for each other in this book. 3) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will discuss and learn more about racism and classism and their effects on all people. 4) Social Movements and Social Change: Students will learn about how people work for social change just as Clover and Annie Paul did in this text by sitting on the fence together and playing with one another. 5) Taking Social Change: Students will learn how to take action and create social change on their own just as Clover and Annie Paul did in the text.

 http://www.amazon.com/Other-Side-Jacqueline-Woodson/dp/0399231161/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1201747778&sr=8-1
 http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780399231162&itm=1
 https://www.hotbooksale.com/store/productView.aspx?idProduct=15165&ec=1&ProdId=62&utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=cpc
 http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780399231162,00.html

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