May 10, 2011
a recent book I loved
As a classroom teacher and as a literacy coach, I read so many books to find new ideas to share that will enhance our literacy program. I search for books for specific individuals and groups, mentor texts for writing workshop, and read-alouds to share special content and find new ways to see others’ lives as well as our own. The ideas presented in the books also promote rich discussions, in whole classes or small groups. Books form a spine of the school’s curriculum, and it seems important not only to find the new authors who are exploring new ways to communicate through print—like the recent explosion of graphic novels—as well as to review books that have been in print a while, even a long while, to access their value. This time, it’s a new book I’d like to recommend.
Published last fall, and lately awarded the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for older readers, A Long Walk To Water, by Linda Sue Park, fills several goals mentioned above, and I liked it so much that I wanted to share about it in this Tuesday’s slice. It is a recent read and I loved it, was inspired by it, and hope you will be, too.
The book is based on the true story of Salva Dut, a Sudanese refugee who fled his home village at the age of eleven because of war. Salva became one of the ‘Lost Boys of Sudan‘, immigrating to the U.S. in the 1990s. He is the inspiration and the founder of Water for Sudan. In the book, Park switches viewpoints and stories between the boy Salva who in 1985 was forced to flee his home after his village was attacked and a girl from 2008 contemporary Sudan who walks eight hours each day to get water for her family. The changing viewpoints across the years create interest in the story, and begin with the two children 23 years apart, but slowly, as the book progresses, brings them together. Park weaves a difficult and complicated story well, crossing the divide of 23 years in a clear (but uncomplicated) style.
There are several ways I might share this book in the classroom:
o As a book group, with a study of unique ways of telling true stories as historical fiction.
o As a read aloud that will include many discussions of other ways of living, in challenging circumstances, but without giving up. Discussion of personal traits, like persistence through adversity and determination to reach one’s goal comprises the ‘other’ curriculum that teachers cover for our students.
o Also, a class might be embarking on a search for a service project, and reading this story together could inspire students to see needs that they might not have understood before.
o As a book goal for a particular student (or group) that might be reading and studying different ways of living, including challenges, attempting to figure out the characters’ source of strength and determination. As one reads the book, a consistent question underlying the story is ‘how do they manage?’ or “how do they keep going, accepting the responsibility over and over?”
It’s wonderful to find a new book to add to my collection of books to use in the classroom and of course, I am always searching for more!