One of our teens suggested A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park as our tweens-teens’ book club selection for April. Having read this book several times, I was a little hesitant about this choice; not because it isn’t a great book, but rather because I was uncertain about how our tweens and teens would handle some of what I would consider heart-rending, gut-wrenching, tear-jerking scenes and an overall melancholic theme.
Almost immediately, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes by A. B. Curtiss, author of The Little Chapel That Stood (which, by the way, is an awesome read for 4-8 year-olds).
Quote: “A children’s book about 9-11 presents a difficult task. We want to shield children from violence and fear, but we don’t want to shield them from courage and heroism. We want to protect them, but we also want them to grow up brave and strong.”
Well, let’s just say we’ve chosen A Long Walk to Water as our April book selection. I believe our young readers will handle the story quite well once they connect the life struggles with the life lessons, the gloom with the glory, the trials and tribulations with the triumphs. I think the hardship has a purpose and place in this book just as much as the victory does. The problems are there to teach the lessons and the lessons are there to explain the problems. They both are essential to the overall telling of the story.
That leads to this question: Do you find yourself second-guessing book choices for your kids due to unsettling themes or do you consider such themes essential to the overall telling of the story? As always, we love to hear your thoughts on books. Please leave a comment or two about this book or other books you are reading.
Book Synopsis: The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day.
The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.
By: Dawn Hoff, Book Kids