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A Long Walk to Water



This moving story intertwines the lives of Salva and Nya, two young children struggling to survive in an unforgiving landscape.  Orphaned Salva becomes one of the many Sudanese people displaced by civil war in the 1980’s and forced to trek thousands of miles to the tenuous safety of refugee camps.  As one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”, Salva eventually resettles to the United States where he overcomes his early struggles to become a young adult determined to give back to his people.  Nya’s family existence is structured around the availability of water which she must find and collect every day.  In 2008 her life dramatically changes, and as she thanks the stranger who brought a precious resource to her village, Nya and Salva become connected through their shared hope for the future.

General Assessment

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This book supports middle school learning related to equality, human rights, world issues and other cultures.  Access to clean, safe drinking water is a challenge faced by millions of people on a daily basis.  In regions like Sudan the role of finding and collecting water often falls upon young girls.  Students could examine this issue by exploring the role of empowerment in improving the lives of girls in developing countries. 

A simple well can bring opportunities for education, income and health to impoverished people.  A class could learn valuable citizenship skills by creating and implementing a project to raise funds to bring fresh water to a community through an organization like World Vision Canada

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

Human Rights (3)

  • Gender Equality
  • Refugees and Immigration
  • War and Peace

Water (1)

  • Water Quality