Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Geography - nor Any Drop to Drink: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Geography - nor Any Drop to Drink: Resources

Article excerpt

The story of Sudan's 'lost boys' moves pupils to take action.

Sipping a glass of water or even just turning on the tap will never be the same again. That is what my pupils told me as we finished reading A Long Walk to Water in class. The acclaimed novel, which formed a major part of our unit about water scarcity and unequal access to natural resources, had my fourth-graders (Year 5) hooked from chapter one.

This powerful novel is presented as a dual narrative following two children living at different times in South Sudan. The true story of Salva Dut begins in 1985 when, aged 11, he is separated from his family by civil war and forced to travel on foot through hundreds of miles of hostile territory. He survives starvation, animal attacks and disease, and after more than a year of walking leads a group of 1,500 "lost boys" to safety in Kenya. Eventually airlifted to the US, he learns English and attends college before returning to Sudan and establishing a charity that drills wells in remote villages that have no access to clean water.

This incredible story is told side by side with a fictional account of Nya, a young girl who lives in one of those Sudanese villages today. Both stories are equally compelling and the author's style is succinct (short chapters and only 120 pages make it a pretty quick read).

This novel is recommended for older primary pupils. The plot is harrowing: it deals with disturbing events including war, child death, murder and some violence. My fourth-graders had the maturity to cope as we read together, and they were stunned by the triumphant climax. …

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