Posts Tagged ‘books about stuttering’
Episode 166 features Kim Block, who hails from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. Kim works as a secretary at a school for the deaf and knows sign language. She says, “It’s the only language I am fluent in.” Kim is married to her husband David who also stutters and they have two children.
Students and staff at her school are very supportive of Kim’s stuttering because she celebrates it. Every October, she has a party to celebrate International Stuttering Awareness Day. She emails tidbits about stuttering to colleagues and is very open about her stuttering. Peers are OK with her stuttering because Kim is OK with it.
Kim has also written a children’s book about stuttering. She wrote it for a little girl in her school who stutters because there were no books in the school library about stuttering. The book is called “Adventures of a Stuttering Superhero: Adventure #1 Interrupt-Itis.” Kim has plans for the book to have a total of nine adventures. She has read the book in front of the whole school. Kim wants kids first experience with stuttering to be positive.
Listen in to a great conversation that really celebrates stuttering.
The music clip used in this podcast is credited to ccMixter.
I recently read “First Person Shooter,” written by Cameron Raynes, a person who stutters. The book is a young adult novel, with some adult themes. The book is narrated by young Jayden, a 15 year old boy who stutters. Jayden is addicted to video games and has a crush on his best friend Shannon.
The story is pretty intense, loaded with characters who all have their own story. Jayden and his father are surviving after losing his mother 12 years earlier. Shannon’s mother is due to be released from prison. Jayden is constantly trying to outrun a couple of school bullies. He has a part-time job at a meat shop and looks in on his neighbor, a disabled veteran. The town is bracing for violence from Pete, who is looking to exact revenge for the murder of his father. And Jayden’s beloved dog is dying.
There is a great deal I could focus on in this gritty coming of age story. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll focus primarily on the stuttering. Stuttering is not always portrayed well in the media and the arts, so I was eager to see how the author incorporated it into the story.
The first thing I’ll say is the stuttering experience is beautifully handled. It is obvious that the writer has first hand experience with stuttering. He nails Jayden’s struggle with having much to say, but feeling unable to express himself the way he wants. Jayden has a love of poetry but can’t make his own words flow.
Jayden shares many real and poignant feelings about his stuttering, which at 15, he realizes will be with him for life. Early on, he reflects that “to speak is to be human,” inferring that perhaps he doesn’t always feel human because of the way he talks. When he speaks, his words are ugly. He escapes these feelings by getting lost in his video games.
Jayden also thinks that deep down, something is wrong, that he is broken inside. That is not unusual for a teen who stutters to feel. I sure felt defective when I was his age and often wondered, “Why me?”
Jayden also describes the dread of sitting in class and having the teacher go around the room and know that he is not going to be able to get out of speaking. He speaks of scanning ahead, which is a trick that many people who stutter use to avoid stuttering. In class, he has also tried being funny, to draw attention away from his stuttering, which doesn’t always work.
Jayden has a circle of friends who accept him. Several of them have also been picked on by the school bullies, so they are a small group with commonalities. Jayden appreciates his friends because he can be himself and not be consumed by the constant worry of how he will sound and how they will react.
Throughout the story, Jayden dreads an oral poetry presentation he must do before the end of the school year. Anyone who stutters can empathize with Jayden’s terror of having to speak and stutter for a prolonged period of time. It can be a harrowing experience for an adult, and this is an adolescent dealing with the cruelty of teens. Jayden gets through the experience and closes the door on another school year.
I highly recommend this book for teens or adults who stutter and anyone for that matter. It is well written, with an honest, believable character who stutters. The author lets us into Jayden’s head and we get how tough stuttering can be. Most fluent people don’t really “get” stuttering. Raynes masterfully weaves Jayden’s stuttering into a story that is dramatic, intense and satisfying. You feel for the kid and applaud his tenacity and courage on many fronts. You’ll have to read it yourself to know what I mean. And I hope you do.
I recently read Ellen-Marie Silverman’s book Mindfulness & Stuttering: Using Eastern Strategies to Speak with Greater Ease. To put it simply, this is a book about change. A good book about change!
Silverman introduces how mindfulness can help us reduce the fear we associate with stuttering (or always have.) Reducing the fear of stuttering allows us to speak with less struggle, even if we stutter as we speak.
Silverman offers a clear and simple definition of mindfulness. She offers that mindfulness is a process of attending calmly, without judgement, to what we are thinking, feeling and doing in the moment.
“The more mindful we become by attending to what is rather than anticipating what might be or regretting what was, the more capable we are of creating the change we want.” In the case of stuttering, that change is to speak with less struggle, less tension and, as the title of the book suggests, with greater ease.
Silverman reminds us repeatedly, through this easy-to-read book, that mindfulness is a process that requires practice and dedication, even if it is only for a short period of time. I liked learning that I could practice mindfulness even for only 5 minutes at a time.
Mindfulness helps change how we think about stuttering, if we allow ourselves to be present in the moments of stuttering. For me, being present in the moment of stuttering was always difficult. In my very covert days, I was constantly worrying about what the listener might think of me. I also found that I wasn’t listening to my communication partner because I was rehearsing what I was going to say next. I wasn’t paying attention. I clearly wasn’t mindful.
Being present with our stuttering is the key to how mindfulness can help us change our stuttering. We can change how we react to our stuttering and become kinder and gentler with ourselves. When we practice mindfulness, our stuttering becomes easier, which is the goal.
Mindfulness is a process that can be learned. With dedicated practice, mindfulness can help us make changes in our lives and make our stuttering easier.
Making stuttering easier with a practice that can be done anytime, anywhere, is definitely worth exploring.
I recommend readers get Ellen-Marie Silverman’s book and learn about a way to manage stuttering that can last a lifetime.
I just finished the excellent book Paperboy by Vince Vawter and couldn’t stop smiling.
Paperboy is the story of an 11-year-old boy who takes over his best friend’s paper route for a month during July in Memphis. Victor is happy to help his friend out, but secretly obsesses over having to communicate with customers when he collects the weekly fee.
Young Victor stutters and the author perfectly captures the feelings, fears and worries that come with being different. We are able to get right into Victor’s head as he practices speaking to some of his customers and as he fervently switches trouble words for words he can say without stuttering.
The author uses a unique style to depict dialogue throughout the story and conveys through words what Victor’s stuttered speech sounds and feels like.
This story will resonate with young people and adults who stutter, as it depicts a real life situation that all of us who stutter can relate to. Victor uses some speech therapy techniques to make his stuttering easier, and he also uses avoidance, which will be all too familiar to many of us who try to be covert!
Paperboy is the story of a kid who is a great baseball pitcher, a friend and a youngster who is learning how to communicate with adults, stand up for himself and learning about empathy.
We learn about his relationships with his parents, his Mam, his peers and the adults he encounters on his paper route. And we root for him as he finds himself in some tough situations and as he gradually becomes more self-aware.
This is a great book about stuttering, life and coming of age. It’s geared for young people, but adults (including parents of kids who of stutter) will love it too.
Put it on your reading list. You won’t be sorry!
I had the recent privilege to read my friend Daniele Rossi’s first book, Stuttering is Cool: A Guide to Stuttering in a Fast-Talking World.
Rossi’s book can be purchased at his Etsy shop. If you enjoy reading books about stuttering, I encourage you to pick this one up. It is a light, easy read full of surprises.
A book seems a natural extension of Rossi’s podcast and website. His premise is that stuttering is nothing to be ashamed of and it is possible to stutter with confidence.
So, does he convey the same premise in the written book?
Answer: A resounding YES. The book is a fun, inspiring look at managing stuttering. Daniele infuses humor throughout. He uses his own comics to illustrate the book, and puts comments in the margins so you sometimes have to turn the book upside down and around in order to read it.
He also uses a genius page numbering system that once again conveys the humor that can be found with stuttering.
Daniele recounts his own personal experiences with stuttering and shares how he went from being fearful of stuttering and trying to hide it at all costs to now embracing stuttering in his life.
Daniele shares benefits of stuttering, as well as tools and “secret weapons” that a person can use to stutter with more confidence. He also shares a piece about change and how important it is to include family and friends on your stuttering journey, especially as you make key changes about acceptance.
I really enjoyed this book. I read several sections more than once and found myself nodding and saying “uh huh” as parts resonated with me. And of course I enjoyed being mentioned and having my thoughts about change included in such a positive, inspiring book.
As I previously mentioned, if you enjoy reading books about stuttering, get this one and add it to your library. It’s well worth it and will have you smiling about stuttering.
Kudos to you Daniele for a great first book! Congratulations!