A Song For Cambodia is a picture book for older primary students.  It tells the story of Arn and how he survived the killing fields.  It deals with difficult issues but, with guidance, older primary children will be able to follow Arn on his journey from happiness to suffering and then back to hope.  The story is based on the experiences of Arn Chorn-Pond, who founded the Children of War Organisation.

You can find out more about the Cambodian genocide here.

Discussion Questions

Please note that these questions are best asked as different stages in the story are reached.

1.      how do we know that Arn is happy at the beginning of the story?

2.      if we went on holiday to visit Arn’s village what might we write about it on a postcard?

3.      why did Arn have to say goodbye to his mother?

4.      where did the soldiers take Arn?  What did he have to do when he arrived and what were children not allowed to do?

5.      what music did Arn learn to play?  Why was it important to work hard at music lessons?

6.      why do you think the teacher had sad eyes?

7.      how did Arn’s music help other children?

8.      when and how did Arn escape?

9.      why was Arn afraid in the refugee camp?

10.  why did music make Arn feel better when he reached America?

Download the PDF book activity.