Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Title: A Long Walk to Water
Author: Linda Sue Park
Grade Level: 5-6
Buy It Here!
Based on a true story, A Long Walk to Water tells two stories: one is about an eleven-year-old girl named Nya living in Southern Sudan who walks eight hours a day to fetch water for her family. The second story is based on the true life of a boy named Salva Dut, who flees his village due to the Sudanese civil war. He spends many years as a refugee and eventually returned to southern Sedan, where he began a movement to dig water wells. This story offers "one hopeful message: that even in a troubled country, determined survivors may find the future they were hoping for".
Element 5: Raising Awareness
This narrative can be categorized as an Element 5 text because it raises awareness about the water crisis, since many countries of the world face challenges in obtaining safe, clean water. It gives students a perspective about how scarcity of water affects other parts of the world. Although we don't have that problem in the United States, it doesn't mean that the problem doesn't exist. When students are given information about a global issue, especially in the form of a narrative, it tends to make them want to take social action to help fight for a good cause. In this case, it raises awareness about the water crisis Sudan faced and makes students feel inclined to help make a difference. They gain a deeper understanding about how important water is in our society.
After reading A Long Walk to Water, students (with permission) can help raise awareness about the water scarcity issue by holding a grade-level event and going for a walk through a park. Students can mimic the "journey" that the people of Sudan would take to fetch water for their families by leaving gallons of water at the end of two-kilometers at the park. They can have family members participate in the event if they would like, and after the walk they can write a reflection on how they felt having to walk to so much to retrieve safe, clean water.