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.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Long Walk to Water

Author: Linda Sue Park
Grade Level: 5th Grade

Buy it here!

Summary:  This book is based on a true story of the lives of two children who lived in Africa.  Nya, was a young girl who had to walk each and every day for eight hours in order to bring her family clean water.  The water her tribe was exposed to was dirty and full of bacteria which caused the village people to become ill and often times caused death.  Salva, a young boy, grew up in a time of war where he was separated from his family and forced to travel all of Africa for years in order to escape the mass killings that were occurring.  Salva's family also lived near water that was unsafe for drinking and as a result, years later, Salva's father was hospitalized with a disease that nearly killed him.  When this occurred, Salva was finally contacted and informed that some of his family was still alive, but at this point in time Salva was living in the United States with an adoptive family.  Upon hearing the news, he made the trip back to Africa where he was motivated to help with the water situation.  He began a nonprofit organization called Water for Sudan, where volunteers drill water wells in Sudan in order to allow clean water for these villages.        

Element 5:  This book relates to Element 5, Raising Awareness, because it allows for students to become educated on the poverty in Sudan. Students will learn how people are suffering due to a lack of clean water, and are becoming ill when they drink the only water that is available to them.  Salva and Nya raise awareness in the story by talking about their upbringing and the struggles they faced as young children.  This helps children connect with the characters because they are hearing someone else's experiences and feeling their pain through the details in a story.  Children will learn that they have the ability to raise awareness about issues they are passionate about and that they can eventually bring about change.

Activity:  A Long Walk to Water can be used to help children learn about a different part of the world and the wars and social issues that have occurred and continue to occur today.  Many people may have their own assumptions about this area of the world and this book helps students understand from the perspective of two citizens how their lives are greatly affected by the poverty level.  A great follow up activity would be to visit Salva's website about his organization, and hear more about this issue and what they can do to raise awareness to the people around them.                            

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