The Other Side – Black History Month

The Other Side

Jacqueline Woodson, Author

E.B. Lewis, Illustrations, Fiction, 2001

Suitable for:  Ages 5 and Up

Themes:  Diversity, Friendship, Racial Equality, Segregation

Opening/Synopsis That summer the fence that stretched through our town seemed bigger.  We live in a yellow house on one side of it.  White people live on the other.  And Mama said, “Don’t climb over that fence when you play.”  She said it wasn’t safe.  Two girls, one white (Annie) and one black (Clover)  live in houses on the opposite sides of the fence.  Every morning, Annie climbs up on the fence and sits and watches Clover and her friends jumping rope.  They don’t invite Annie to play.  She sits on the fence every day rain or shine.  She dances in rain puddles by herself.  One day Clover goes over to the fence and climbs up to sit with Annie.   They become good friends and spend the entire summer sitting on the fence that the adults built to separate their two communities.

What I like about this book:  This is an excellent book to discuss the history of racism and diversity with children.  Clover narrates this realistic and lyrical book by Jacqueline Woodson.  E.B. Lewis’s beautiful water-color illustrations give the book a warm and friendly feeling.   This book clearly shows how children don’t see color.   They are puzzled by the fence between the black and white neighborhoods in their small town.  They don’t disobey the rules, but find a clever way around them by sitting together on top of the fence.  They aren’t going to let a fence get in the way of  their friendship.  Woodson does an outstanding job of showing that friendship can overcome any racial barrier.  This is the 11th anniversary of this classic book.  It continues to be a great book  for classroom discussions.

Activities:  There are two resource links for  The Other Side.  The second is an activity section that can be used with Woodson’s book.

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

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About Patricia Tiltonhttp://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

45 thoughts on “The Other Side – Black History Month

  1. I am surprised that I haven’t come across this book Pat. There is some great symbolism and an important message in this book, told through what sounds like a very natural story about childhood friendship – at a time in a child’s life when they haven’t learnt to fear that which is different!

    • Joanna, I liked the symbolism. The book is really about the power of friendship. I think its important for kids today to understand this history, and be taught diversity at a young age. You’re right, they haven’t learned to fear that which is different.

    • Hi Pat and Joanna, let me join the conversation here a bit because I am also surprised that I have not come across this book myself. Thank you for sharing this Pat, and I would definitely have to Pin this in my books to borrow from our library – been keeping tabs of these through Pinterest. Very useful tool. :)

  2. This book looks wonderful! It has such an important message. And I love the art! The cover is gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing, Pat. You always have such great choices. (And I added your link – sorry it took so long…!)

  3. Great choice Pat! I heard Jackie read this aloud at SCBWI 2010, and it is a life-changing book. In fact, we own it, and it was selected as my kids’ “one book, one school” this fall.

  4. This sounds like a great book about the power of friendship! I love the idea of them sitting on the fence together, technically not breaking any rules but at the same time defying them all.

  5. Wow that cover just says it all. I love the idea that they are not going to let that fence stand in the way of friendship!

  6. I think that the book has a great message! I like how the girls became friends without breaking the rules. I can’t believe people wouldn’t let kids play together because of their color. I like E.B. Lewis’ illustrations! He has also illustrated a Robin Hood book with similar looking illustrations (style, not the same pictures). I’ll check the book out! :)

    • Erik, I’m glad you enjoyed my choice. That did happen. I grew up in the dark ages of the 1950s and it was an issue, especially in the south. Yes, I love E.B. Lews’ illustrations too. Thanks for the tip. Have tried to run one book a week during Black History Month, and a couple during MLK’s birthday. They belong on our PPB list.

  7. This book looks amazing. We have been talking a lot about diversity in my house this month and I think this would be a great addition to the conversation. Thank you!

  8. I love the books that you choose every week, Pat. You find gems that are not only beautiful, they create an opportunity for wonderful discussions with children. The image of the fence dividing a community is a very powerful one. Thank you.

  9. I’ve come across this book somewhere recently, but I can’t think where. It seems like such an excellent book to share with kids as a discussion starter and an eye-opener.

    Thank you so much for sharing it, Pat!

    • Beth, it’s a great classroom book. Someone else reviewed a book by Jacqueline Woodson about a month ago. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of. I love her books and E.B. Lewis’ artwork is just gorgeous. The fence is such a powerful symbol.

  10. p.s. I was talking to a friend in the grocery store today, and she mentioned your interview on my blog. She has a friend who teaches kids with special needs, so I sent her the link to my blog to share with her friend.

  11. Hi Pat,
    Thank you for contributing such a powerful and beautiful book to PPBF…this is a wonderful message of friendship for young children…and a look at racism and how children don’t see color until adults teach them about it.
    The art work looks lovely…great choice for Black History Month…or any month. ;) the fence reminds me of the one in “Sorry”…might have to review that one soon.

  12. I love Jacqueline Woodson’s books and this one is no exception. I used to read this to my third graders for Black History Month, or when they needed a book to illustrate friendship and inclusion. Glad to part of PPBFs now!

  13. Great choice! I read this book a while back. Loved the story of reaching out and friendship. This was actually one of the books referenced in Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books.

  14. This is an amazing book, and I liked what Catherine said. How this could teach adults a thing or to. I am lucky in that we never had this problem in our country. Loved the message, thanks Pat. Great Post.

  15. Excellent choice! Your review sent tingles up my spine. This is a book our family will have own and read over and over. Thank you, thank you for sharing. I am checking out the activities too.

    Sorry I am late checking in, but I was finishing up a short story that I wrote about our son Christopher. I am subbing it to an anthology. *fingers crossed*

  16. Pingback: Each Kindness | Children's Books Heal

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