By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park—based on the life of Salva Dut, one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan—has been on bestseller lists for more than a year and has sold more than one million copies.
To mark the book’s impact, the book’s publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), is making a $15,000 donation to Salva Dut’s nonprofit organization, Water for South Sudan (WFSS), to help fund the drilling and installation of a new well in South Sudan.
The well is expected to provide fresh, accessible water to thousands of South Sudanese and to allow hundreds of girls and boys to regularly attend school, instead of spending their days walking to and from the nearest well. Houghton is also launching a matching-gift campaign for employees in order to raise an additional $15,000 to furnish another well.
Park’s December TEDx talk—Can a Children’s Book Change the World?—explores the power that reading can hold in a young person’s life. In a prepared statement with the Houghton news release, she said:
“I’m thrilled to have reached this milestone, and so grateful to all the readers who have been inspired by Salva’s story. There are now hundreds of wells in South Sudan that have been sponsored by readers of the book, and I’m deeply moved that HMH is adding to that number.”
As Houghton’s statement has it, “A Long Walk to Water recounts Dut’s journey as an 11-year-old boy being forced from his village by rebels, traveling through hundreds of miles of dangerous terrain patrolled by armed soldiers, leading a group of young boys to safety in Kenya, and eventually relocating to the United States.”
A comment provided from WFSS quotes Executive Director Lynn Malooly saying: “Water for South Sudan joins in celebrating Linda sue Park’s ‘million-million’ accomplishment: selling over 1 million copies of A Long Walk to Water, which has also generated more than $1 million in donations.”
Houghton describes its corporate social responsibility program as being dedicated to improving PreK-12 student outcomes in under-resourced communities through international initiatives including “donation of books and learning resources, strategic partnerships with mission-aligned foundations and organizations, and HMH’s Community Investment Councils–local employee committees charged with creating opportunities for volunteerism and impact in the community.”