Far and Near


Author:  Erin Aston

Grade Level:  Early Elementary








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The student will draw a picture and write a sentence showing how his or her life is similar to that of children in Africa.
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Materials Needed:

A Country Far Away, by Nigel Gray, illustrated by Philippe Dupasquier. Orchard Books, New York, NY, 1988.

Drawing paper for the students' work

Crayons, markers, or colored pencils for drawing

Large bulletin board


Construction paper, a hole punch, and yarn, brads, or rings to assemble the students' work in book form.

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  • Ask the children how many of them have ever lived somewhere other than where they do now. Discuss similarities and differences of different places (e.g. city vs. country, different states, what they did for fun, the kinds of places they enjoyed going, the type of food they ate, the games they played, the people they associated with, etc.)
  • Ask the children if they've ever visited another country. Talk about any differences they experienced. Ask them to consider the similarities. Tell them that though people in other countries are a bit different than we are in some ways, there are many ways in which we are the same.
  • Introduce the book (A Country Far Away). Tell them the author's and illustrator's names. Briefly explain what the book will be about (a day in the life of a boy in a western country compared to a day in the life of a boy in Africa). Talk about these being only two examples and that there are many differences in the ways people live even within our own state, depending on many of the things discussed earlier. Make sure they are aware that the African boy is living in a rural area, but that not ALL of Africa is like that.
  • Read the book to the class.
  • Generate a list of events discussed in the book
  • Possible discussion questions:
  • What were some of the similarities between the two boys' lives? The differences?
  • Which activity was the most interesting to you? Which did you relate best to? Which did you want to know more about?
  • What is your day like when you stay home? When you go to school? How is it the same as what was shown? Different?
  • Would the experiences have been different if the African boy had lived in a city? How? Do you think there would have been more similarities or differences? Explain.
  • How did the book make you feel about children in Africa?
  • After reading and discussing, give the children a piece of drawing paper and have them each draw an event from their own lives which matches one of the events mentioned in the book. Have them write a sentence accompanying the picture telling how it is similar to the rural African examples shown and discussed.
  • After all the drawings are completed, either mount them all on a bulletin board, or create a cover and compile them into a book to keep in the classroom.  A possible title might be Children Far and Near.


  • Assess the students' drawings and sentences to see if they were able to compare events in their own lives with events in the book. Look for appropriate events clearly linked to the book and adequate explanation of similarities depicted.


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