I Talk Like a River

This beautiful book enhances our understanding of the experiences of individuals living with special needs. It encourages children to empathize and consider abilities often taken for granted. The narrative focuses on a child with a speech disorder, effectively using figurative language to convey the struggle of feeling sounds and words trapped in one's mouth. It also fosters respect for the courage and resilience inherent in living with special needs. This glimpse into the character's life serves as a potent tool to build empathy and initiate discussions about ensuring everyone in our community feels valued.

Social Justice Activities:

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Identity 5. Students will recognize traits of the dominant culture, their home culture and other cultures and understand how they negotiate their own identity in multiple spaces.

Justice 11. Students will recognize stereotypes and relate to people as individuals rather than representatives of groups.

Action 16. Students will express empathy when people are excluded or mistreated because of their identities and concern when they themselves experience bias. 

Analyze the main character's feeling before school, during school and with his dad. If we were friends with this child, what qualities can we show to help him feel safe and valued?

Reading Strategies:

Character Analysis: Analyze the main character's actions and their reasons for those actions.  

Figurative Language: Poetic elements and descriptive language throughout the book. Explore the author's choice to use the metaphor of a river as speech.

Author's Purpose: Read the note in the back and discuss the author's motivation for writing the book and how that motivation influenced the writer's craft.

Book Details:
  • Autobiographical Narrative, All Ages
  • Perspectives: Living with a speech disorder
  • Author's stated experience: Living with a speech disorder
  • Subject Integration: Art, Science

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain