Published on October 19th, 20170
Book Review: Adventures of a Stuttering Superhero
By Lisa Avery, M.H. Sc., RSLP
Recently I discovered another excellent book to add to my “therapy library”: Adventures of a Stuttering Superhero by Kim Block. The first book in the series features Melissa, a student who stutters, who sets out to find help for a classmate who has “interrupt-itis,” which causes him to interrupt her and finish her sentences. The author is a person who stutters and knows all too well how this strategy, which is often used by well-meaning listeners, may make the situation worse. The person who stutters may feel increased time pressure to finish their words and is likely to increase stuttering, not decrease it. This story provides a practical suggestion that children can try, just like Superhero Melissa.
The paucity of books about children who stutter in her local library motivated Block to write and self-publish Melissa’s story. With this book, Block is contributing to a small but growing collection that provides children who stutter with strong and courageous role models and influences how they perceive themselves. Children who stutter are at risk of being bullied, mostly about their stuttering. Educating others can help reduce the amount of bullying children are likely to experience. Block’s book is an excellent resource to educate peers in the classroom and siblings at home.
Block has revealed that Melissa’s next adventure takes her to a conference for people who stutter where she discovers that she is not alone. Connecting with other children who stutter is crucial for a child’s health and self-esteem. These connections and friendships can positively impact the rest of their lives and choices they make along the way. Parents, teachers, speech-language pathologists and other health and education professionals have a role in facilitating these connections.
Block’s story has a powerful message, her writing and dialogue from a child’s perspective feels very genuine, and the concept of “interupt-itis” is humorous. When Block was growing up, she did not know anyone else who stuttered and believes that Melissa’s story would have helped her to feel “normal” and less isolated. Block hopes that children who stutter will find comfort and support in the “me too” message of her books.
If you are seeking more books about children who stutter, I recommend this resource: https://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/kids/kidsbooks.html
About the Author
For more than 30 years, Lisa Avery has worked with people of all ages who stutter, in both public and private settings in Ontario and BC. She has taught coursework in fluency disorders at the School of Audiology and Speech Sciences at the University of British Columbia since 1994, and has mentored many community colleagues and former students. She is now enjoying retirement and a very small private practice.