Open Wide the World


Open Wide the World Through Books: July 2018 Edition

Our family is spending 2018 reading books aloud that connect us to times, places, cultures and events from around the world and from throughout history. And after reading a book, we're following inspiration wherever it leads: an instagram search (April), a nearby restaurant (May), or a historic site (last month).

In this series, we share family-friendly books on travel, world cultures, anthropology, and history. Come see what we're reading in July. And share your suggestions, too!

You can check out the origin of this series here or just jump right in with our July pick for "Open Wide the World through Books!"

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This book takes place in war-torn South Sudan, Africa, in the 1980s through 2009.

The publisher says:

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two 11-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... Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

We say:

Julie (mom): Wow! We have read some really good books as part of our 2018 series, but this is by far my favorite. The true storyline is riveting and the unique structure is mesmerizing.

The author had us pulling for -and crying for- the characters from the first page to the last word. 

Homer (dad) did not join us this month. Because it is summer vacation, Mag and I have a lot of down time together while Homer works; we read this together during our "gal time."

Mag (10 y/o): I liked this book because it was based on a true story so I found out more about Africa and how people struggle a lot because there are not enough resources to survive. It makes me want to give more to people in need.


Our family's rating (on a scale of 1-10): 9+

This book's unique structure, plus its compelling characters and true storyline had us unable to put it down. And when it did come to an end, we were consumed by wanting to know more, leading us to the extension activity below.

A page-turner that inspires action... what more could you ask for in a book! 

Extension Activity

With every page of this book, we couldn't help but be reminded how much we take for granted in our cushy Western lives, and what a difference the seemingly smallest thing might make in the lives of people elsewhere.

So this month, our extension activity involved an afternoon looking around the Water For South Sudan website, as well as making a donation to the cause.

Disclaimer: I want to stress that we did not choose this book in order to promote this cause. The book simply caught our attention at the library; we checked it out with no idea that it would lead us to action.

Has your family read a book that inspired action?

Share your recommendations in the comments!


Do you have younger children?

Your family will love this beautiful picture book on the same topic!