Monday, December 10, 2007

Talking Walls, Overview

Talking Walls
Fast Facts:
Author: Margy Burns Knight
Illustrator: Anne Sibley O’Brien
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers (March 1995)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0884481549
ISBN-13: 978-0884481546

“People all over the world have been using and building walls for thousands of years. These walls tell many fascinating stories.” Margy Burns Knight tells 14 of these fascinating stories in Talking Walls. Beginning with The Great Wall of China, Margy Burns Knight takes us all over the world and gives us insight into many different cultures. Each wall is featured in a two-page spread with beautiful illustrations by Anne Sibley O’Brien. The stories of the walls themselves never exceed three paragraphs, so you won’t get bored reading a lot of details and facts about the walls and different cultures. Instead, you’ll get just enough information to learn about the wall, the history behind it, and the people who built it. We also learn how walls can bring us together or keep us apart. Throw in a little folklore and you’ve got a fascinating book that is sure to spark a lot of conversation with your kids.

The back of the book includes additional information about each wall if you want to know more, and the end papers feature a graffiti wall with the word for wall written in 36 languages. The fourteen walls include some you are very familiar with and some you may have never heard of:

• The Great Wall of China
• Aborigine Wall Art (Australia)
• The Lascaux Cave (France)
• The Western Wall (Jerusalem)
• Mahabalipuram’s Animal Walls (India)
• Muslim Walls (Mecca)
• Great Zimbabwe
• Cuzco, Peru
• The Taos Peublo (United States)
• Mexican Murals
• The Canadian Museum of Civilization
• The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (United States)
• Nelson Mandela’s Prison Walls (South Africa)
• The Berlin Wall (Germany)

I was delighted when I read this book for children and learned about new people and places. I taught English as a Second Language to middle and high school students and found this to be a refreshing way to teach vocabulary, history, geography, and also a great way to celebrate diversity. In addition, the reading level is right on target with intermediate English language learners and is appropriate for both middle school and high school. I developed a nine week unit of instruction based on this book, and it was a hit with both groups because of the straightforward subject matter. If you’re a teacher and are looking for ways to supplement your lessons or if you’re a parent who wants to introduce your child to different cultures, Talking Walls is the perfect choice.


  1. I saw you comment on 5 Minutes for Mom concerning my novel, and I had to check out out. Little did I know how cool YOUR blog would be. That book on Talking Walls sounds amazing. I'm going to order a copy!

    Tricia Goyer

  2. Hi Tricia,
    Thanks so much for visiting and leaving your feedback. I hope you enjoy Talking Walls!