The Other Side
By Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
After reading this book, I instantly ordered in online for my future classroom. It is an amazing book that has so many great uses for the classroom. Woodson is such a talented author, especially because she can write and reach so many different audiences. This story takes place in a small town that is racially segregated. The two main characters are Clover (a young black girl) and Annie (a young white girl) who are neighbors, and a fence separates their yards. Annie is very lonely, while Clover is always playing with friends in her yard. Clover and Annie have each been told not to cross over the fence by their mothers, and abide by this rule; they have never spoken to each other. Finally, one day they meet and become friends. They begin to play together, and sit on the fence talking.
The most incredible part about this book, is Clover and Annie’s conversation on the final page of the book, “Someday somebody’s going to come along and knock this old fence down,” Annie said. And I nodded, “Yeah,” I said, “Someday”. This has such a strong and intense underlying message, and I think it is one that students will really understand and relate to.
Woodson to carefully creates a relatable, believable, touching story of friendship while addressing such intense and emotional underlying issues as well; I think she does such an amazing job of this. This would be a great way to introduce a discussion on racism, segregation, friendship and many other topics. I think this would be a great way to incorporate literary elements into the classroom as well; the fence is such a strong metaphor and symbol in the book, as are Clover and Annie.
This would be a great book to use as a cross-curricular resource as well as just a very touching and interesting story that I think kids would really enjoy, relate to, and comprehend on a very deep level.