Stuttering in Children's Literature

This is the beginning of a list of children's books that deal with the topic of stuttering. It was begun by Kris Warmka at Mankato State University and draws heavily from an article by Bushey and Martin published in LSHSS in 1988. Additional excerpts of their summary evaluations will be added soon. Several people have suggested additional books. If anyone has read any of them and cares to comment on them, please let me know. If anyone has more suggestions, please email kuster@mnsu.edu

  • Arthur, Ruth (1979) Miss Ghost New York: Atheneum. Reading level - ages 13-15

    "Stuttering is referred to as stammering in this story, and although Elphie does not stutter often, it is clearly a cause of dismay when her 'wretched stammer' occurs. Elphie stutters during painful or difficult conversations. . . . She refers to stuttering as something that happens to her, not as something that she does." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Beard, Darleen Bailey and Christelow, Eileen, (1998) The Flimflam Man (can be ordered through this link if you want )

    Based on a 1950 event in Wetumka, Oklahoma, that started their annual Sucker Day. The story features a "con man" and the first person in town to meet him, Bobbie Jo Hailey, a 10 year old who stutters. The book is written for children ages 9-12 and is about swindlers and swindling, friendship and stuttering.

  • Bowler, Tim (1994) Midget Oxford University Press (can be ordered through this link if you want )

    This is about a fifteen year old boy who stutters.

  • Brown, Alan and Forsberg, Grant (1989) Lost Boys Never Say Die. New York: Delacorte Press

    Scheduled to go to camp to work on his stuttering problem while his parents go off to the Arctic, Lewis surreptitiously steals back into his house where he lives a secret life for eight weeks, meeting a new friend who is camping in a nearby woods and who involves Lewis in acting and a new approach to his speech problem and to life. Interesting reading. Discusses feeling and attitudes about growing up and being teased. (Warmka)

  • Bunting, Eve, (1980) Blackbird Singing, New York: MacMillan Publishing. Reading level - ages 9-12.

    "This story is not about stuttering, but about those dilemmas in life that have no completely satisfactory resolution. Marcus still stutters in the end. The author assumes in the story that the cause of stuttering is psychological stress, but she does not oversimplify the dynamics of this stress by making Marcus a victim of rejection or abuse. Marcus is a loved and valued member of his family and the community. The book captures the profound complexity of both stuttering and life itself." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Chambers, Aidan (1980) Seal Secret New York: Harper and Row. Reading level - ages 9-12.

    "...A wonderfully written adventure in which stuttering is only a minor theme. (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Christopher, Matt (1975) Glue Fingers Boston/Toronto: Little, Brown, and Company. Reading level - ages 5-9.

    "This book is primarily a sports story. The drama of the story revolves around Billy Joe's courage. He goes out for football and succeeds despite his fear of rejection and his stuttering. . . . In this story, the treatment of stuttering as it relates to the theme of courage is problematic. The story implies that it is acceptable to stutter if one also has a showy talent with which to compensate." (Bushey and Martin, 1988).

  • Corrigan, Kathy (1984) Emily Umily, Toronto: Annick Press. Reading level - ages 4-7 (can be ordered through this link if you want )

    "Although this delightful book is written very simply, it captures the essence of preschool. Emily's problem is treated honestly and realistically. Her disfluency is not called stuttering in the book, and there is no indication that the disfluencies are caused by nervousness. Emily is just as disfluent in her mother's lap as she is at school. Her life changes for the better with an attitude change, but there is no immediate change in the speech pattern." (Bushey and Martin, 1988).

  • Cosgrove, Stephen (1983) Creole, Los Angeles: Price Stern Sloan. Reading level - ages 5-9

    About an alligator who stutters, "this story is a sweet, although superficial, moral tale about not judging someone by the way he or she looks. The story does not, however, address the issue of intolerance toward stuttering. . . an odd oversight in a book that is written mainly to discourage prejudice." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • de Geus, Eelco (1999) Sometimes I Just Stutter, translated by Elisabeth Versteegh-Vermeij is a book written especially for children who stutter. You can order a copy from the Stuttering Foundation of America online catalog for $2 or you can read it online free. This book is also available in Spanish, Chinese, Dutch, and Italian!

  • Doherty, Berlie, The Golden Bird London: Heinemann, ISBN 0-434-967.

    A short story aimed at what the book describes as 'newly fluent' readers. It is about Andrew, who stammers. He thinks everybody at school is laughing at him and does his best not to be noticed. He is generally silent. The book hints that his stammering is attributed to unhappiness since his father died. His teacher has written a school play and wants everybody in the class to take part. The part the teacher has written for Andrew is the Golden Bird. Because of the audience and his mother's reaction to his part in the play, Andrew becomes happy. The end of the story is the only time Andrew speaks and he doesn't stammer. It does not say that Andrew can now speak fluently because he is no longer sad, but one can be left wondering whether the author intended to suggest that is why Andrew is now fluent, thus reinforcing the idea that stammering is caused by emotional distress. . (reviewed by Claire Tupling, University of York)

  • Fassler, Joan (1971). Don't Worry, Dear.. New York: Behavioral Publications,

    Jenny's mother patiently waits for her to outgrow her thumb-sucking, bedwetting, and stuttering. It very briefly addresses stuttering. One day Jenny wakes up and realizes that she speaks clearly. Written from a perspective that stuttering is a "diagnosogenic" disorder, "this book. . . . was written specifically as a tool for counseling parents. . . .Parents and professionals may find (this book) informative, but children probably will not find it fun reading." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Filson, Brant (1979) The Puma New York: Doubleday. Reading level - ages 13-15.

    "The plot. . . is weak and disjointed. The characters have action, but little substance. . . . The interaction between facets of Sonny's own personality, including the stuttering, is largely unexplained and unexplored." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • FitzSimons, Ruth, (c. 1966?) The Boy on Hillside Street.

  • Frank, Lucy, Lucy Stars (Richard Jackson Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, to be released July 05 ) features a 7th grade protagonist who stutters.

  • Fusco, Kimberly Newton Tending Grace (Alfred A Knopf/Random House) is a novel about a teen-age girl who stutters. The book received the 2006 Schneider Family Book Award from the American Library Association in New Orleans, received starred reviews in Booklist and School Library Journal, and was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

  • Griffin, Peni R. (1992) The Treasure Bird Margaret K. McElderry Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) ISBN 0-689-50554-x http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0140366539/ paper http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=068950554X/ school and library binding

  • Greene, Constance (1972) The Unmaking of Rabbit New York: Viking Press. Reading level - ages 9-12.

    "This story is interesting, but the characters somehow never become unique and important. Paul's stuttering appears to be a device for emphasizing his timid nature. The stuttering occurs infrequently, and with no apparent pattern. The book offers little real insight into stuttering." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Guy, Rosa (1981) Mirror of Her Own New York: Delacorte. Reading level - ages 13-18.

    "This story is superficial. The plot is implausible, and the characters are unexciting. With regard to stuttering, the book has some good insights, but (the main character's) 'cure' is not convincing." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Hague, Kathleen (1981) The Legend of the Veery Bird, San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Reading level - age 4-10

    "In this story, stuttering is interwoven with timidness and self-consciousness. This stereotype is, perhaps, a minor weakness in the book, but the beauty of the story far outweighs any such shortcoming. (The book) has rich illustrations and an emotionally satisfying plot. It is a lyrical, completely charming, romantic fantasy." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Hansen, Joyce, (1997) I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly - The Reconstruction Era Diary of Patsy (Dear America), Scholastic Trade. Reading level 9-13.

    This Dear America book is about a freed slave girl named Patsy. Although Patsy stutters, she shows courage to speak. Patsy writes about how frustrated she gets with her stuttering. People think she is dumb but she is really very smart. (This book also very good reviews by lots of kids and can be ordered through this link if you want).

  • Harrison, Tracy, Booing Goodnight to Halloween

    This is a very short story for very young children (ages 2-4), about a ghost who says b-b-b-boo and feels a little withdrawn about it, but gets supported by his friends. (Starkweather - will be included as an appendix in Starkweather and Ackerman's new book, due out in 1996).

  • Hazen, Barbara Shook (1985) Why Are People Different? A Book About Prejudice Reading level - ages 5-9 (can be ordered through this link if you want )

    In this story, "stuttering, because it is mild and transient in (this child's) case, is presented as a minor 'difference.'" (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Holland, Isabelle (1977) Alan and the Animal Kingdom Philadelphia: Lippincott. Reading level - ages 9-12.

    "This is an interesting book in which stuttering is dealt with realistically and with considerable insight." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Kelley, Salley (1976) Trouble with Explosives Scarsdale, New York: Bradbury Press. Reading level - ages 9-12

    "The book describes some of the awkward situation created by stuttering with a wicked kind of humor, and clearly concludes that stuttering is a psychological problem." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Kline, Suzie (1992) Mary Marony and the Snake, New York: Putnam
    (Can be ordered through this link if wish - Paperback)

    A book for children ages 6-9 about Mary Marony who has a problem with stuttering, and a problem with classmate. With the help of her mother and new classmates, Mary, who is in second grade, sees a speech therapist about her stuttering problem.

  • Kline, Suzie (1993) Mary Marony Hides Out, New York: Putnam.(can be ordered through this link if you want -- Hardcover or Paperback)

    Mary is so embarrassed about her stuttering that she almost misses a chance to have lunch with her favorite author who has come to speak at the school.

  • Kline, Suzie (1994) Mary Marony, Mummy Girl, New York: Putnam, (can be ordered through this link if you want -- Hardcover Paperback

    Mary wants to be something scary for Halloween so she can get back at Marvin, who makes fun of her stuttering.

  • Kline, Suzie (1995) Mary Marony and the Chocolate Surprise (Can be ordered through this link if you want -- Hardcover or Paperback

  • Lawlor, Laurie (1995) Gold in the Hills (Can be ordered through this link if you want -- Hardcover

  • Lears, Laurie, Ben Has Something to Say: A Story About Stuttering School & Library Binding (October 2000) (Reviews of this book are available from NSA and Whitman but the best price at the time this was added is $11.96 through this link to Amazon - ages 4-8

  • Lee, Mildred (1969) The Skating Rink New York: Seabury Press. Reading level - ages 13-18.

    "This book is rich in detailed descriptions of stuttering and the experience of being a stutter. Common theories and superstitions about stuttering are woven into the story." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Lew, Gail Wilson (1999) Jeremy and the Hippo

  • Mark, Jan (1976) The Ennead New York: Crowell. Reading level - ages 16-18.

    "This story is set post-doomsday in a cruel futuristic society. . . . Isaac is the main character. . . .He hops about, repeats words over and over, and talks in a sing-song manner. . . . In Isaac, stuttering is part of a craven, morally deficient personality. The stuttering decreases and eventually is overcome as Isaac grows in moral strength and courage." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Mathy, Margaret (1984) The Change Over New York: Margaret C. McElderry Book. Reading level - ages 13-18.

    "This book is. . . an interesting and exciting story. Stuttering is mainly a device used by the author to give (the main character) a distinctly human frailty and to indicate when the young man was under an emotional strain. Importantly, (he) is not a weak character, as are many stutterers in fictional literature. (He) is romantically attractive, and no more or less insecure than most young me. He is not overly embarrassed by his stuttering. The very unimportance of stuttering in this story adds to the book's positive emotional impact." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Page, Terry and Love, Bob, Bob "Butterbean" Love Story, Publisher: Boo Books (1-800-205-1140)

  • Pont, Clarice (1961) The Immediate Gift New York: David McKay Co. Reading level - ages 16-18.

    "Stuttering, the speech disorder explored most fully in the story, is perceived to be a psychological maladjustment to 'poor mothering.'" Provides an interesting historical review for anyone interested in the field of Communication Disorders, as the main character graduates with a degree in speech pathology during the 1950's. ((Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Pratchett, Terry Equal Rites Corgi Books (can be ordered through this link if you want )

    This is not aimed specifically at children but Pratchetts books appear to be very popular among teenagers. It is a fantasy book. The stammering character is called Simon. He is not the major character but is quite important. Peter Knutsen, a high school junior, reviews this book as following:

    The person who stutters, Simon, is portrayed as highly intelligent, a talented wizard's apprentice, with a natural gift for understanding magic better than other wizards. He is a bit nerdy, but I think that's fair enough.

    Pratchett could have made a lot of jokes about Simon, but he doesn't. Simon's stutter is treated well by the people around him, they do finish the words for him sometimes (which is bad, of course) but he is accepted for what he is.

    Simon is portrayed as a real human being, his stutter is just a feature, and no attempts is made to use the stutter to explain anything about him, or define him as a person. Pratchett's satirical fantasy stories have a certain psychological realism and internal consistency that is rare in literary entertainment, so if I had not read that particular book, but just heard that Pratchett had written a novel with a PWS in it, I'd have trusted him to treat the handicap in a fair way, based on my familiarity with his writings.

    "Equal Rites" is a book in the Discworld series. The books can be read independently, although some of them are mini-series spanning 2-3 books. "Equal Rites" is either a stand-alone story or the beginning of a series.

  • Pratt, Philip J., et. al., His Grandfather's Cap -- can be ordered through this link if you want, Paperback (Special Order)

  • Reville, Julie, The Many Voices of Paws: A Book for Young Stutterers (can be ordered through this link if you want -- Paperback (Special Order)

  • Silverman, Ellen-Marie, Jason's Secret Ages 9-12, Paperback - 213 pages (January 2001)

  • Steinsdottir, Kristin, (1994) Armann og Blida, Asprent, Akureyri

    A book about Armann who is six years old and stutters, and his cat, Gentle. Orginally written in Icelandic, Armann and Gentle has been translated into English, and is available from the Stuttering Foundation of America.

  • Stucley, Elizabeth (1961) The Contrary Orphans New York: Franklin Watts. Reading level - ages 9-15.

    "...A wonderful story about the nature of children and, more generally, about the challenge of survival. . . . Frankie becomes fluent as a result of breathing exercises and changing his attitude about the world. This book is a joy to read because it contains genuine and thoughtful observations about children living together and coping with reality." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)

  • Sugarman, Michael (co-founder and Executive Director of the NSP) and Swain, Kim (1995) The Adventures of Phil Carrot: The Forest of Discord.

  • Watson, Sally (1966) Other Scandals New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Reading level - ages 13-15.

    "This story is about racial and ethnic prejudice and about the misery of self-pity. Good humor and real insight, however, save the story from becoming tedious and sermon-like." (Bushey and Martin, 1988)


    *Several of the books are more thoroughly reviewed in the following article, which has been quoted extensively above:
    Bushey, Tahirih and Martin, Richard. Stuttering in children's literature. LSHSS, 1988 Vol 19 #3 pp 235-250.
    last modified - February 29, 2008
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