Ideas for Learners Promoting Literacy, Inquiry, and Meaningful Learning Experiences
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Book Summary

Told from two different perspectives, this book is part biography, part fiction. Salva is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan; when war breaks out in his village while he is at school, he is forced to run into the African bush, since going home would mean certain death.  Salva endures hunger, heat, and threats of violence from humans and animals on his journey to escape war and make a better life for himself and for others.

This story is also told from the point of view of a girl named Nya, who must walk a long way to a pond to collect water for her family twice a day.  She cannot go to school, and when her younger sister is sick, the family must decide whether she can live through the long walk to the nearest hospital.  Nya's story and Salva's intersect at the end of the book.

A Long Walk to Water

Book Review

 The writing in this book is fairly simplistic, although the content is sophisticated--at times shocking, and other times touching and inspiring. The author deals with complex topics and horrific circumstances in a way that younger readers can absorb. While some events are tragic and disturbing, there is an overriding message of resilience that prevents the book from becoming graphically or gratuitously violent. This would be an excellent book club selection for middle school students, who might not be aware of events beyond their immediate spheres of awareness.

Topics and Themes for this book:

  • Surviving Difficult Circumstances
  • The "Lost Boys" of Sudan
  • Resilience
  • World Crises

Discussion Questions for this book:

The best discussion questions, of course, are generated by and contemplated by readers. These questions are designed to avoid major spoilers about the book, and to provide a starting point for teachers, parents, and student reading groups.

**Questions coming soon**

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