I Talk Like a River

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
I Talk Like a River Book Poster Image
Beautiful, personal tale of boy's struggles with stuttering.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lessons on empathy, understanding how it feels to stutter, and the end of the book has information about the complexity of speech.

Positive Messages

Be patient with yourself when things are hard, love yourself, and be understanding of others when they face difficulties.

Positive Role Models

His father is kind, understanding, loving and helps his son love himself.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jordon Scott's I Talk Like a River is a beautiful, vulnerable, first-person perspective on how it feels to have a stutter, and it shines with its empathy and gentle beauty. The gorgeous illustrations and loving support from the boy's father help readers feel what it is like to have a stutter, to feel words trapped inside and to be embarrassed that they can't come out. The message is relatable to readers young and old, and anyone who has had a "bad speech day" will feel deeply understood. At the end of this remarkable book, the author explains his own history with stuttering and his father's ways of calming and reassuring him.

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What's the story?

I TALK LIKE A RIVER gives a young boy's deeply personal account of what it feels like, physically and emotionally, to stutter. When he wakes up in the morning, the words and sounds are stuck in his throat. In class, he feels embarrassed when he's put in the spotlight and can't speak like everyone else. After school, his dad calls it a "bad speech day" and takes him to the river, where he feels calm and quiet. His dad explains that his speech is like a river, sometimes slow and flowing, sometimes choppy.

Is it any good?

Direct, poetic language and beautiful, flowing illustrations turn a story about stuttering into a rare gem for all ages, full of emotion, empathy, and insight into the mind of a boy who stutterers. I Talk Like a River is a gentle picture book with a deeply emotional look at the feelings of shame and frustration that come with "bad speech days" and a direct, loving example of how parents and caregivers can help a stuttering child feel understood. The way the boy describes his feelings -- sounds stuck in his throat, embarrassment, sadness -- connect deeply to readers in this essential, amazing book. At the end, author Jordan Scott chronicles his own history with stuttering, and his father's response that shaped both his life and this story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how I Talk Like a River made them feel. Have you ever felt like teh author did in class or with a group?

  • Have you ever seen someone who seemed scared to speak in class? How do you think they felt when they were called on? How did you feel watching them?

  • What can we do if we see someone feeling uncomfortable like that in class? What about if we see a friend feeling like that at our house?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and stories of dads

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