Tag Archives: survival

Summer Reading: A Long Walk to Water


A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Recommended for: grades 5 and up

Based on actual events, the story of two children into different time periods, facing life-threatening struggles in the country of Sudan.

Topics/Themes: drinking water, Sudan, family, Sudanese Civil War, The Lost Boys of Sudan, global issues, helping others, survival

My Two Cents: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Each chapter in this book intertwines the stories of two children trying to survive in circumstances that the average American child can barely imagine.  Nya’s twice daily trek to fetch drinking water for her family seems like such an antiquated prospect to us, and yet this event is a reality for many children today. Salva’s story begins with the bombing of his school by Sudanese rebels and his subsequent escape from his village.  Separated from his family he will travel on foot for hundreds of miles over several years through the deserts of southern Sudan, then Ethiopia, on to Kenya and finally to the U.S.

A Long Walk to Water is an inspirational story of struggle, survival, and giving back.  (I’m thinking One Book, One School!) It is also a story that begs us to get involved, take action, and make a difference in our world.  Salva Dut founded the non-profit orgaization Water for South Sudan to help the people of South Sudan drill for clean drinking water in their villages.  On this website you can find more information about A Long Walk for Water and other resources related to the book.

Watch this moving video about how Water for South Sudan is changing the lives of the people of South Sudan:

Water for South Sudan from Water for South Sudan on Vimeo.

For a more in-depth look at this book, check out Linda Sue Park interviewing Salva Dut. (Also from the Water for South Sudan website.):

Pair with: 

Hoping for Peace in Sudan : Divided by Conflict, Wishing for Peace by Jim Pipe.

Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams.

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney

A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water across the World by Christine Ieronimo

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Ryan and Jimmy: And the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together

Summer Reading: Trash


Trash by Andy Mulligan. Realistic Fiction/Mystery.

The lives of three “dumpsite boys” become forever entwined when one day Raphael discovers a bag containing a wallet, a map, and a key.  Soon all three are running from the police and desperately trying to solve the mystery of why the bag is so important to the authorities.

Themes/Content: Poverty, trash, waste, money, corruption, power, survival, courage, fear, friendship, education, codes, standards of living, character perspective, environment, greed

Recommended for: Grades 6 and up, readers who like dramatic stories, readers who like a lot of action, readers who like mystery, inquiry projects for social awareness or environmental issues, discussing character perspective

My Two Cents: When I choose a book to read I intentionally try to not know much about it.  I rarely read the summaries or reviews before I read the book.  It took me several chapters to realize I wasn’t reading dystopian science fiction.  The conditions of squalor in which the characters live are so extreme, how could I think otherwise?  Then I started thinking about my trip to Ghana several years ago, and I connected some of the scenes described in the book with some of the poverty stricken areas I had visited then.  Here I confess that I broke out of my normal routine and skipped to the acknowledgements at the end.  Mulligan said, “Behala dumpsite is based loosely on a place I visited whilst living in Manila.” Here is what he had to say about the book:

This book is definitely not for younger students, even though young children are the protagonists.  The authorities are brutal with Raphael as they interrogate him.  Rat (Jun-Jun) is completely alone in the world, living in the midst of filth and trash with the rats as company.  Gardo takes the leadership role and gives the others strength.  They all must take drastic measures just to survive in the harsh environment which surrounds them.  The boys do find compassionate people who play a role is helping them solve the mystery.  At first solving the mystery is a matter of survival, but eventually the boys realize that they are compelled to right a wrong that occurred before they were born.

This book will be eye-opening for those of our students who are born into a life of privilege.  As we encourage our students to be more globally aware, Trash could be used to spark discussion about living conditions in developing countries and possibly as in impetus for our students to affect change.  The book might also encourage students to learn more about the environmental impact of these very real sites.

Similar/Paired Books from EHUE Library:

  • Bailey, Gerry, and Felicia Law. Cowries, Coins, Credit. Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books, 2006. Print.
  • Bedford, Deborah J. Garbage Disposal. North Mankato, Minn.: Smart Apple Media, 2006. Print.
  • Bellamy, Rufus. Food for All. North Mankato, Minn.: Smart Apple Media, 2006. Print.
  • Clifford, Tim. Around the World with Money. Vero Beach, Fla.: Rourke Pub., 2009. Print.
  • Kent, Zachary. The Story of the Peace Corps. Chicago: Children Press, 1990. Print.
  • Ma, Yan, and Pierre Haski. The Diary of Ma Yan : the Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese Schoolgirl. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. Print.
  • Milway, Katie S. One Hen : How One Small Loan Made a big Difference. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2008. Print.
  • Povey, Karen D. Garbage. Detroit: KidHaven Press, 2006. Print.

Favorite Quote: “The absence of money is drought in which nothing can grow.  Nobody knows the value of water until they’ve lived in a dry dry place- like Behala.  So many people waiting for the rain.” (Mulligan, Andy. Trash. Oxford: David Fickling Books, 2010. 149. Print.)

The Final Word(s): A powerful gripping mystery. 🙂