Anna Carries Water

Anna Carries WaterDo you want your child to learn about different cultures? How about appreciating clean water?

I went to an author event a couple of months ago at a local bookshop for The Monkey Balloon and had the pleasure of meeting Laura James, the illustrator for this beautiful book, Anna Carries Water. Anna Carries Water written by Olive Senior is about a young girl named Anna who desperately wants to carry water on her head like the other children in her village. Each time she tries to carry water on her head, she spills the water and makes a mess. The other children get annoyed with her and she feels defeated.

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The story begins with a scene of Anna and her family in the countryside where water does not come from a tap. Every evening after school, the children have the responsibility of going to the spring for water. They need to fulfill this chore every day so that their families have water for cooking and drinking, washing dishes, washing faces, cleaning teeth and giving their animals fresh water. They use the river for bathing and washing their clothes. One day, Anna gets frightened of the cows at a nearby farm and runs without thinking. She has the water can filled with water on her head the whole time and she never spills it! She and her family are overjoyed of this accomplishment because now she can carry the water just like everyone else.

I enjoyed this book for many reasons. The book is not only beautifully illustrated but portrays a culture and lifestyle that helps build diversity and awareness. Many adults and children take water for granted and can’t imagine not having access to it on a regular basis. Most children also do not have the responsibility of providing this essential water for their families and having this chore after school. Most of our children are playing sports, doing homework or involved in other activities after school.

Anna Carries Water can give parents the opportunity to educate our children about different cultures, lifestyles and appreciation of the simple but important things. I read this book many times to my children and found it fascinating to hear their perspective on the characters. Most children can identify with Anna because regardless of race, culture or age, we all want to feel like part of a group and that we belong. Take this opportunity to appreciate the things we take for granted such as our clean water, food and the house or apartment that you live in.

Sample Questions for parents:

1. How does Anna feel when she can’t carry the water on her head?

2. Why does she want to carry the water on her head?

3. Where does Anna live and how is it different from where you live?

4. Would you like to wash your clothes and bathe in the river? Why or why not?

5. Why is it important to have clean water? What would happen if you didn’t have clean water?

6. How does Anna feel when she can carry the water on her head?

7. Why are the children carrying the water on her their head versus holding it with their hands?

Carryover Activity: Have your own child try to carry water on their head and see how challenging it is!

To learn more about clean water and how to help with The Water Project, click here.

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