A Long Walk to Water


A Long Walk to Water (paperback)

by Linda Sue Park

AR Level 5.0, 3 points


I read A Long Walk to Water to my class as a read aloud.  I thought it would be a good example of a book that is high quality literature, as well as one that has been on the New York Times Best Sellers List for awhile, which would open them up to another way to find new books.  It is also a book I’d never read, and it gave me the opportunity to read and learn with them.

A Long Walk to Water is about the struggle of a boy in war-stricken Sudan.  Salva is from a known family and has what he needs, but his village is attacked by rebels one day when he is at school, and he is separated from his family.  He goes on a long journey with strangers, looking for safety and necessities (food and water).  He finds a friend and an uncle, but they are quickly separated.  His journey takes him through several countries, through several relief camps, through many dangers, and eventually to Rochester, New York, 20 years later.

We also see Nya, a girl who makes a daily journey to collect water for her family.  We don’t know as much about her, because her story is only a page at the beginning of each chapter.  However, in the end, we see their connection.

What I like about this book is that my students were able to see a slice of life from the point of view of a boy or girl their age, but in another country and with drastically different struggles.  I’m not sure if my students were able to relate or put themselves in the characters’ places, but at least they can have some background to the news on tv or the struggles.  I want my students to have exposure to and be aware of what is happening outside of their bubble.

What I don’t like about this book is that it is depressing.  I didn’t think my students would become attached to the characters, but when they started making connections towards the end of the book, they were thrilled.  The story is sad, though, and there are a lot of really realistic parts that are heart-breaking.

Book 9 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)