Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Long Walk to Water: A Mentor Text That Inspires Opinion/Argument Writing

blog post written by:
Sarah Svarda

Have you ever read a book that made you want to take action immediately?  When I finished A Long Walk to Water, the first thing I did was look up the website for Water For South Sudan.  The second thing I did was follow Linda Sue Park and Salva Dut on Twitter because I wanted to know about anything and everything that either of them had to share with the world.  As Linda Sue Park states in her TedX Talk (below), books like A Long Walk to Water do two things for the reader:

1.  Reading the book provides practice at life for the reader.  In this case, the story helps the reader experience unfairness.  The reader learns how to deal with unfair experiences through examples from the characters.  In a Long Walk to Water, Salva's response to the unfairness he faced was with hope and perseverance.  As the students read, they will learn to face unfairness in the same way through Salva's example.
2.  The reader experiences and develops their own empathy for others as they read.  This empathy encourages engagement for that reader.  
This outcome of empathy and the need for engagement is the perfect opportunity to let your children become engaged with the story outside of the walls of the school building.  Read A Long Walk to Water with your children.  Research and brainstorm ways that your children can help the families and children have clean water in South Sudan.  Write.  This is the perfect opportunity to have your children write opinion/argument pieces encouraging others to help their cause.  You will have automatic engagement because the students can't wait to help.
Here's what the book has already inspired as stated by Linda Sue Park in her TedX video (below):

1.  To date, readers of A Long Walk to Water have raised more than one million dollars for Water For South Sudan.
2.  Sixty wells have been dug with that one million dollars.
3.  Each of the sixty wells can serve 2,000 people.
Do the math.
4.  When children no longer have to spend the whole day walking to get water for their families, they can go to school!

Linda Sue Park shares the following books in her TedX Talk which are also great mentor texts to inspire your students to take action and write opinion/argument pieces in the classroom:

Have your students read Wonder by R.J. Palacio and  write opinion/argument pieces about bullying.  Check out the Kind Classroom Challenge as well.  Our fifth grade reading teacher's classroom is a certified "Kind" classroom.  She can't say enough about how the kids have become involved and taken on the ownership of treating each other with respect and kindness.

Crenshaw is a bittersweet story that shares the reality of homelessness that so many of our students face on a daily basis.  After reading Crenshaw, your students will be inspired to share the statistics of homelessness in school-aged children and to educate their peers about what can be done to help. 

Do you have any texts that you've read to your class that inspire opinion writing?  If so, please share them in the comments below.


  1. Love this! Thanks for sharing. It fits perfectly with our STEAM unit.

    1. Bess,
      Thanks for reading the post! I'd love to hear what your STEAM unit is about.

  2. I would love to use this in my class.

    1. Lori,
      Thanks so much for reading! I'm interested to learn what grade you teach. If you'll send me a message on Twitter @sarahsvarda, I'll send you a copy :).

  3. Charlotte: I can't wait to read the book. Thanks for sharing. It sounds like a book that I would like to share with my fifth grade students.

    1. Charlotte,
      Thanks for reading! Yes, this book is perfectly suited for fifth graders. I know your class has also completed the Kindness Challenge. This title is another great one that will get your students excited about taking action to help others!

  4. Love all the books posted and I am totally using this Ted Talks for a presentation. I love good ole "Duck, Rabbit" to start the discussion of opinions. It's a great way to introduce the idea of opinions and respecting someone's point of view.

    1. Laura,
      Thanks for sharing. I'm glad you can share the Ted Talk with your kids. They will love it!

  5. The precepts in 365 Days of Wonder are perfect for sparking opinion writing with students - perfect to pop up the precept of the day on the board and have the kids free write their opinion of the quote during morning work! #choosekind #365DaysofWonder

    1. Elizabeth,
      Thanks so much for this great idea to pair with Wonder by R.J. Palacio!

    2. Thanks for sharing this part " Salva's response to the unfairness he faced was with hope and perseverance. As the students read, they will learn to face unfairness in the same way through Salva's example. " Cheers Ahmed

  6. خدمات كشف تسربات المياه من افضل ما يتم الاستعانه بيه فى شركتنا على الاطلاق فانت الان اصبحت تمتلك افضل الشركات المميزة المتواجده فى الاسواق والتى تساعد فى القيام باعمال الكشف والبحث عن الاسباب التى ادتت الى التسربات فمن اهم ما تقوم بيه الشركة من اجل ان يتم الوصول الى افضل النتائج المميزة المتواجده فى الاسواق هو الاستعانه شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض فالشركة تعتمد على عدد من الخدمات المميزة المتواجده فى الاسواق فمن اهم ما تقوم بيه الشركة الاتى
    1- الاعتماد على افضل العماله المدربة على كيفيه القيام باعمال الاصلاح والكشف عن تسربات المياه بطرق حرفيه مميزة ومتواجده على اعلى مستوى فاذا كنت تعانى من البحث عن التسربات والاصلاح فاستعن بينا على الفور
    2- الاهتمام بالتعرف على مكان التسرب من خلال افضل الاجهزة المميزة المتواجده فى الاسواق
    3- اسعارنا لا تقبل المنافسه على الاطلاق فى مقابل الخدمات المميزة المتواجده فى الاسواق وبالاضافة الى ان خدمات شركة كشف تسربات بالرياض من الخدمات المميزة المتواجده فى الاسواق
    عزيزى العميل اذا كنت فى اى مكان فى الرياض او خارج الرياض وتعانى من اعمال البحث عن تسربات المياه وتعانى من كيفيه الاصلاح فعليك ان تتصل وتتعاون معنا على الفور فى القيام بالاصلاح والكشف فالشركة عند القيام باعمال الاصلاح توفر طاقم من السباكيين والفنيين والمتخصصن فى مجال التنظيف على اعلى مستوى فلا تتردد فى التعاقد والتعاون معنا الان فى القيام بكل ذلك
    جهاز كشف تسربات المياه الالكترونى
    لا تكتفى شركة بسمة الرياض باعمال البحث عن تسربات المياه بطريقه عادية بل تقوم بالاعتماد على افضل الاجهزة والالات المميزه المتواجده فى الاسواق فنعتمد على افضل الخدمات المميزه من جهاز يعمل بالذبذبات ويتعرف على مكان التسربات فى اقل وقت ممكن فالشركة تعتمد على جهاز الكترونى يقوم المدرب على التعرف على كيفيه القيام باعمال الكشف من خلاله بالتحرك فى الاماكن التى نشك ان بيها تسربات والبدء فى التعرف على المكان من خلال افضل الطرق ويبدا الجهاز فى اصدار الذبذبات وعند انقطاع الذبذبات يدل هذا المكان على انه مكان التسربات فنبدا فى الاصلاح على الفور فكل ذلك لا يحتاج الى الكسر او التبليط او القيام باعمال الاصلاح فلا تتردد فى التواصل والتعاقد مع كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض افضل شركة الكشف عن تسربات المياه على الفور فى القيام بكل ذلك .

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.