A long Walk To Water by Linda Sue Park: With Lesson Plans

Posted by: 

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park details the captivating true story of the lives of two young Sudanese children.  

Your eyes will be opened to the real-life struggles, challenges and heartache they face everyday.  Your heart will be changed forever as you follow Salva and Nya, separated by a generation, on their journey through a drought-filled, war-torn Sudan.

Sudan is located in West Africa and surrounded by Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zaire, Central African Republic, Libya, Chad, Egypt.  Their journey takes them to Ethiopia and Kenya.

Recently, I read this book to my kids and husband as we traveled 12 hours, by car,  for a little ocean-front camping.  I figured that while I had a captivated audience there was no time like the present to begin our summer, filled with meaningful literature.

How ironic it was as we began to read a book about real-life challenges needed to overcome in order to just find water daily.  Here we were traveling in our air-conditioned car with bottles of fresh water to enjoy, on our way to the world's largest body of water for pleasure, not for necessity.

From the moment we started this book, we couldn't put it down. 

Truly written from the heart, the entire book fills you with a raw realness about life in Africa.

Each day, 11-year-old Nya must make two barefoot trips alone to get water for her family. Her journey begins at daybreak and ends at dusk.

The water that is worked long and hard to get is anything but clean. It is filled with parasites and worms. Causing terrible illness like cholera and guinea worms.

Told alongside Nya's daily journey, is the life of Salva Dut.  An 11-year-old school boy in Southern Sudan, part of the Dinka Tribe, some 20-years before Nya finds herself collecting water.

His tragic life unfolds before your eyes. At times, becoming tough to take in another sentence.  Salva's life takes turns that most of cannot even comprehend, walking through the desert with strangers, no food or water, suffering loss. All at the age of 11.

Salva becomes the leader of what most of now know as "The Lost Boys of Sudan." Over 17,000 boys who made the journey through the barren desserts of Ethiopia and Kenya.

This story is full and rich and you will not want to put it down. It has touched our family to the core. I highly recommend adding this to your favorite's collection.

Have your students and children think about this:

One mile is equal to four times the distance around a modern-day US track, similar to one we might see at one of our schools. Salva Dut walked over 1,800 miles. He did this barefoot, alone and hungry. How many times would he have walked around the track?

Nya's journey was very similar. Barefoot, alone and hungry, 2 times a day. How far did she walk?

Many classrooms have used this book as reading material, there are several good lesson plans on the web. Here are a few I found.




Youtube is a great resource for more information about Salva and his his efforts to get clean water for Sudan.