A Long Way Gone

Long Way Gone Teacher Guide
Long Way Gone Class Activities
A Long Way Gone Audio File and More
Youtube video of Freetown (a tour of the city - 10 minute video)

Ishmael Beah Unicef video

Story not true?


A theme is a central message of a story, and it is what the author wants you as the reader to learn or to take away after reading.

What do you believe to be the most significant (important) theme from the story?
Choose one of the themes from the list below or come up with your own theme from A Long Way Gone. 
Be sure to include the title and the author.

Requirements: Minimum of 3 paragraphs with each paragraph containing 5-6 sentences each. Minimum of 2 citations from the text.

Remember to R.A.C.E.
a. Restate- Reword the question into statement form.
b. Answer- Explain why you believe this theme to be the most significant.
c. Cite- Include 3 direct citations/quotes from the book that support your theme being the most significant and explain how each of those instances in the book support your theme.
d. Extend- Relate that same theme to another book or movie (text to text), to your life or someone you know (text to self), or to something going on in the world/went on in history (text to world).

Possible Themes:
Struggle to Survive
Loss of Innocence
Cruelty of Nature
Consequences of Revenge
Never Lose Hope
Brutality of War
People Can Change


ALWG Group Questions:

  • Benin Home, where Ishmael undergoes psychological, emotional, and social counseling, as well as physical and medical attention, is where he keeps hearing the “this isn’t your fault” remark from various staffers and professionals. Does he ever really accept this mantra? Explain.
  • In Chapter 17, Ishmael describes “the first time [he’d] dreamt of [his] family since [he] started running away from the war” (p. 165). Paraphrase this nightmare, explaining how it differs from the many other dreams we’ve heard about from Ishmael. Also, explain how the dream illustrates his inner conflicts.
  • As he is leaving Benin Home, Ishmael says farewell to his friend Alhaji, who salutes him while whispering, “Goodbye, squad leader.” “I couldn’t salute him in return,” Ishmael writes (p. 180). Why
  • Describe the family Ishmael goes to live with after his eight-month rehabilitation. Who are they? How is he related to them? What does he think of them? Is he entirely honest with them? Which members of his new family is Ishmael closest to?
  • Why doesn’t Ishmael date girls in Freetown for extended periods of time?


ALWG Vocab List 1

  1. refugeean exile who flees for safety
  2. plagueannoy continually or chronically
  3. capacitycapability to perform or produce
  4. indicationsomething that serves to suggest
  5. intensifyincrease in extent
  6. ladenfilled with a great quantity
  7. evadeavoid or try to avoid fulfilling, answering, or performing
  8. chaoticcompletely unordered and unpredictable and confusing
  9. anxiouscausing or fraught with or showing anxiety
  10. waila cry of sorrow and grief.

ALWG Vocab List 2

  1. Diminution - decrease, reduce, lesson, diminish
  2. Assail - criticize or attack
  3. Disbelief - inability or refusal to accept that something is true or real.; lack of faith in something
  4. Exotic- originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country.
  5. Uproar- a loud and impassioned noise or disturbance.
  6. Debris - scattered fragments, typically of something wrecked or destroyed.
  7. Diligent - having or showing care and conscientiousness in one's work or duties.
  8. Contradict - be in conflict with; deny the truth of (a statement), especially by asserting the opposite.
  9. Predict - say or estimate that (a specified thing) will happen in the future or will be a consequence of something.
  10. Undermine- damage or weaken (someone or something), especially gradually


Chapter breakdown


2 & 3

4 & 5

6 & 7