What it's all about
Sipping a glass of water or turning on the tap will never be the same again. That is what my pupils told me as we finished reading A Long Walk to Water in class. The acclaimed novel, which formed a major part of our unit about water scarcity, had my Year 5s (P5s) hooked, writes Mary McCarney.
The dual narrative follows two children living at different times in South Sudan. The true story of Salva Dut begins in 1985 when, aged 11, he is separated from his family by civil war and forced to travel on foot through hundreds of miles of hostile territory. Eventually airlifted to the US, he learns English and attends college before returning to Sudan and establishing a charity that drills water wells in remote villages.
Side by side is a fictional account of Nya, a young girl who lives in one of those Sudanese villages today.
The plot is harrowing, dealing with war, child death, murder and some violence. But my class coped as we read together. We watched a YouTube clip of the author, Linda Sue Park, interviewing Dut, and found the website for his charity, Water for South Sudan. The children were so moved by the story that they raised funds for the charity, created posters about saving water in Sudan, and encouraged younger classes to think about their use of water.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is published by Clarion Books. www.lindasuepark.com
Try map work on Sudan, research the civil war, discuss inequality of natural resources and ways to save water. bit.lyLessonsOnSudan
Find out more about Salva Dut's charity and how we can all make a difference. www.waterforsudan.org.