Once in a while, I come across a book that makes me want to run back to the classroom just to teach it. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is one such book. Published in 2010 and based on a true story, this slim book with plenty of white space, and a lexile of 720 would be perfect for seventh or eighth grade reading classes.
The story begins in 2008 and tells eleven-year-old Nya's story as she walks eight hours a day to collect muddy water for her family's use. She is unable to go to school because her family must have water, and it takes all day to get it.
Nya's parts of the story are short. The story switches back and forth from Nya's story, short and in brown font, to Salva's story, longer and in black.
Salva's story begins in 1985 when his life erupts in war. He must run, and run fast to the bush. There is no time for him to find his family, only to try to stay alive. He must walk, and walk, and walk to try to reach safety. Salva is a real person - and this book is based on his life.
As the story progresses to the end, Salva and Nya's stories will intersect in the present day.
This is a story of war, fear, survival, grief, hope, forgiveness, working together, and of making a difference for an entire village.
I can imagine reluctant readers getting into this inspirational story. I can see it helping students who don't like school learn to appreciate the gift of being able to go to school. I can see this story causing our students to want to serve others. This books makes you step outside yourself and see that we are all connected.
I loved Salva's Uncle who helped him keep going even when others had given up. He encouraged him to walk to just one more bush, one more rock, one more patch of ground, to just keep putting one foot in front of the other - one small goal, one piece of the journey at a time. I gave this book five stars.
Read to a child today even if that child is you.