Arts and Entertainment

PA Center for the Book and Mary Gay Scanlon join 'Read Around the States'

Library of Congress' latest offering includes Pa. representative reading from 'The Other Side'

Pennsylvania Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon reads "The Other Side" by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, for the Library of Congress' launch of "Read Around the States." Credit: Library of CongressAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. —The Library of Congress has launched “Read Around the States,” an initiative featuring videos of U.S. Congress members presenting books recommended for young readers, followed by interviews with the authors.

Each video contribution is facilitated by participating state Center for the Book affiliates and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book features U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania’s Fifth District reading from “The Other Side” by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

Artist and children’s book illustrator E.B. Lewis is a Philadelphia native whose work has been recognized by prestigious awards such as the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award. Scanlon indicates that part of the reason she shares this book is because her family had a personal connection with Lewis.

The book, “The Other Side,” is a story of a Black neighborhood separated by a fence from an adjoining white neighborhood, and the decision of two young girls, Clover and Annie, to overcome the separation. Following Scanlon’s introduction of “The Other Side,” Pennsylvania Center for the Book Director Karla M. Schmit conducts a one-on-one interview with author Jacqueline Woodson, noting the 20 years that have passed since the publication of the book and its metaphorical "fences."

“Have real and metaphorical fences continued to be knocked down? Or are they still being built?” Schmit asks. Woodson shares that “Both things are happening. Fences are getting knocked down all over the place. … And then we see the fences trying to get built [around things like] voter suppression…”

For Woodson and Schmit’s in-depth discussion, including of pivotal moments between the young characters Clover and Annie in Woodson’s book and on the creation and resulting symbolism of “The Other Side,” visit the Library of Congress “Read Around the States” website to watch the video, "Pennsylvania: The Other Side."

To see other state contributions, such as Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine reading from “The Circus Ship” by Chris Van Dusen or Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota reading from Phyllis Alsdurf’s “It’s Milking Time,” visit the full list of videos on the “Read Around the States” web page.

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book is an affiliate of the Center for the Book established in 1977 at the Library of Congress. It encourages Pennsylvania’s citizens and residents to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy.

In addition to contributing to “Read Around the States,” the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, with collaboration with Penn State University Libraries, administers the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, the Public Poetry Project, Wordstruck: Micro Essays on Literature that Redefined You, A Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy, Poems from Life, Words of Art, and the interactive Literary & Cultural Heritage Maps of Pennsylvania.

For more information about “Read Around the States,” please contact Karla M. Schmit, education librarian and director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, at

Last Updated September 08, 2021