The Festival is honored to host Linda Sue Park and Salva Dut at our FREE 9:30 a.m. opening session, “Books change readers; readers change the world!—A celebration of the book A Long Walk to Water.” Whether this is your first introduction to the New York Times bestseller or you’ve had a child read it as part of the NYS 7th grade curriculum, we can’t wait to see everyone there! Written by local Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park, the book tells the true story of local immigrant Salva Dut, a former “lost boy of Sudan” and founder of Water for South Sudan, who overcame incredible odds to not only survive war in his country but to return years later and provide water to his people.
A Long Walk to Water has inspired school children and families around the world to raise over $1 million for Salva Dut’s charity, Water for South Sudan. To date, WFSS has drilled 282 new wells in South Sudan, bringing clean, life-saving water to hundreds of thousands of people in great need. The Rochester Children’s Book Festival is proud to raise money for a new well this year. Local children and families who have raised money for WFSS will be applauded at this opening session, being held in MCC’s gym. Attendees may stay afterward to meet Salva Dut and be among the first to enter the Festival when the doors to the Flynn Campus Center open at 10 a.m.
WFSS will host a table at the event and will raffle off two stunning pieces of artwork from the newspaper serial version of A Long Walk to Water, donated by artist Jim Averson (an author-illustrator the Festival is pleased to welcome this year.) WFSS will also raffle copies of the novel, donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and signed by Park and Dut.