I Talk Like a River

by Jordan Scott
Grade K-3


What if words got stuck in the back of your mouth whenever you tried to speak? What if they never came out the way you wanted them to? When a boy who stutters feels isolated, alone, and incapable of communicating in the way he’d like, it takes a kindly father and a walk by the river to help him find his voice. Poet Jordan Scott writes movingly in this powerful and uplifting book, based on his own experience. A book for anyone who feels lost, lonely, or unable to fit in.

Discussion questions from SOMN

  • Discuss the boy’s relationship with his father. How do the poet and the illustrator communicate this?
  • Discuss the wordless centerfold. Explain how the boy’s facial expression conveys what he is feeling. Open the fold-out pages. What is signi­ficant about the glistening river? Is this a turning point for the boy? Compare this illustration to the one on the cover of the book.
  • Sometimes the illustrator shows only the eyes of the boy, rather than his entire face. What is the boy seeing and feeling in the ­first double-page spread? Chart what the boy’s eyes reveal from the beginning of the book to the end. Look at the boy’s body language throughout the book. What does this say about the way he feels?
  • Read the author’s note at the end as a class. The author feels very connected with the movements of nature and compares them to his own. What do you think about that? Do you feel connected with nature? Why or why not?

Classroom activities from SOMN

  • The text of this book is a poem. Explore poetry as a class using some of these fun classroom activities, or by creating your own.
  • In the book, the boy finds comfort and confidence in nature. Create a book of nature inspired poetry as a class. Prepare by talking about nature, exploring nature in-person, or by looking at photos or illustrations of nature. Have each student write a poem and create a collage to illustrate their poem. Put all the poetry together into a class book of poems.
  • Invite a local poet to class to talk about their work.