I never stopped buying children’s picture books. They are a marvel of brevity and beauty. They are art for the eye, food for the mind and solace for the spirit. A few years back I found The Other Side, written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E. B. Lewis. The book’s gentle portrayal of racial division in the 1950’s or early 60’s slowly and firmly builds toward friendship and camaraderie.
When I showed this one to Olivia about a year ago she turned thumbs down. She judges a book by its cover and is adamant about sticking to her decision. During last week’s Zoom reading time, I held it up for her again and this time got a thumbs up. The artwork, watercolors that resonate with life and simplicity , dominate the two-page spreads. The narrator’s voice rings true. Olivia was transfixed and asked me to read it twice more. This is what I love about successful picture books: they capture a child’s heart and soul.
It is said that little pitchers have big ears. Given the ubiquity of the racial discussions happening all around us, The Other Side gives those little ears a song of truth and a message of hope. Check this one out to read to your little one. Use it as a springboard for planting seeds to celebrate that which unites us, not divides us.