Best Children's Book on Bullying about Speech Impairment

Best Children's Book I've Ever Read

Hooway for Wodney Wat is about bullying and about dealing with a speech impediment. It is also about being shy and feeling inadequate and unloved. All of these are serious, yet this book manages to handle these difficult subjects in a subtle way, making us laugh and cheer for Rodney Rat and ourselves as we face difficulties and inadequacies and bullies. In fact, I'd have to rate this as the best children's book I've ever read.

If I had any doubt about making such a strong recommendation, it was just eliminated a few minutes ago when my 15 year old son (who had a speech impediment until he was 9) saw Hooway for Wodney Wat laying on the counter, ready for me to use in this hub, and said, "Hey, that is a great book. I remember it. I loved that book!" Moreover, a few minutes later, my husband walked by, looked at the cover and said, "That is my very favorite children's book. I'll read that first before anything else."

Now, it isn't as if we don't have a lot of other reading material in our house. We have at least a thousand children's books on our selves and today we just returned from our weekly trip to the library with about 40 books. So, after all of those thousands of great pictures books, why is it that Hooway for Wodney Wat gets put as number one?

You can listen to the book read below.

Reading of Wodney Wat

Children and Speech Impairment

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Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester

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2nd grader with speech problems.  As my son worked hard to overcome his speech problems, he was encouraged by books like Wodney Wat.My son when his speech impediment made it hard for anyone to understand him and caused terrible temper tantrums because of his frustration. Hooway for Wodney Wat helped him to believe he could be liked by others.Mom reading books to kids.  Books like Wodney Wat help start discussions about problems like speech difficulites.Clowning together as a family also helped Brendan feel more accepted.Brendan at 15.  Here is a recent picture of my son whose speech problems are no longer noticeable, but the lessons he learned about self-acceptance from this book are perhaps even more important now that he is in High School.
2nd grader with speech problems.  As my son worked hard to overcome his speech problems, he was encouraged by books like Wodney Wat.
2nd grader with speech problems. As my son worked hard to overcome his speech problems, he was encouraged by books like Wodney Wat. | Source
My son when his speech impediment made it hard for anyone to understand him and caused terrible temper tantrums because of his frustration. Hooway for Wodney Wat helped him to believe he could be liked by others.
My son when his speech impediment made it hard for anyone to understand him and caused terrible temper tantrums because of his frustration. Hooway for Wodney Wat helped him to believe he could be liked by others. | Source
Mom reading books to kids.  Books like Wodney Wat help start discussions about problems like speech difficulites.
Mom reading books to kids. Books like Wodney Wat help start discussions about problems like speech difficulites. | Source
Clowning together as a family also helped Brendan feel more accepted.
Clowning together as a family also helped Brendan feel more accepted. | Source
Brendan at 15.  Here is a recent picture of my son whose speech problems are no longer noticeable, but the lessons he learned about self-acceptance from this book are perhaps even more important now that he is in High School.
Brendan at 15. Here is a recent picture of my son whose speech problems are no longer noticeable, but the lessons he learned about self-acceptance from this book are perhaps even more important now that he is in High School. | Source

Children's Book About Accepting Self

Hooway for Wodney Wat Teaches that being different can have it's advantages

Hooway for Wodney Wat is a great book because it sensitively explores the fear we all have about being different and encourages us to embrace our differences as advantages. In Hooway for Wodney Wat, author Helen Lester gives the story of an underdog (rat!) who triumphs in spite of his shyness, insecurity and speech impediment. For Rodney his misery is caused by his inability to pronounce "R," which provides constant teasing at rodent school. The other kids wink at each other and ask Rodney,"And how does a train travel?" To which he miserably replies "A twain twavels on twain twacks," before hiding himself inside his coat.

Often books for kids with problems focus on overcoming those inadequacies and insecurities. Rodney Rat doesn't learn to say his "r's" correctly, nor does he overcome his terrible fear of the big bully Camillia Capybara. Instead, he hides in his jacket and watches while the bully Camillia is made a fool of by her own intense self-confidence. Meanwhile, Rodney and his friends learn that being different can sometimes have advantages.

Like Helen Lester's more well-known Tacky the Penguin books,Hooway for Wodney Wat explodes the common schoolyard myth that kids have to "fit in" by dressing, acting and thinking like everyone else. We love Tacky and Rodney because they are rebels without a cause who end up being the unlikely hero of the day.

Why does the story of Rodney Rat resonate so strongly? I think we've all had a moment when we've quavered before the bully even when the bully didn't seem to notice us. Rodney is never actually attacked by Camilla, but he hides in his jacket anyway when she says, "I am bigger than any of you. I'm meaner than any of you. And I'm smarter than any of you. So There!" Whether it is on the schoolyard or the workplace, we have all faced someone like this who has made us want to hide in our jacket too, wondering like Rodney, "What will she do when she hears me speak?"

Family Movie of Wodney Wat

Book that Encourges Children to Believe Bullies can be Overcome

Ultimately, Howay for Wodney Wat gives the message: Bullies don't have the last word. People of integrity, honesty and humility are a lot stronger than selfish bullies. That is a lesson I want to teach my kids and every time I read this book, it is a lesson I am reminded I also need for myself.

That lesson comes home to me and my kids more strongly when we get to experience it together as we root for Rodney rat along with his friends in the climax of the book.

When the terrifying moment comes when Rodney is picked to lead the game of Simon Says, Rodney has fearful visions of Camilla tying him up in his own tail or pouncing on him. However, trembling in his jacket he squeaks out a command, "Wodney says weed the sign." To the amazement of Rodney and the delight of his classmates, while the other rodents calmly read "P.S. 142 Elementary School for Rodents, "Camilla begins to frantically pull weeds up around the sign," making them all smile at her mistakes.

Emboldened, Rodney begins to improvise other commands which cause the overconfident Camiliia to hit her head ("Wap your paws awound your head"), fly around confused ("play wing awound the wosey"), and get openly laughed at for trying to talk to leaves ("wake the leaves!"). Finally, when Rodney calls, "go west," Camilla, proud of knowing how to read directions from the sun, heads west with a, "So there," and stomps away forever.

We all know that bullies aren't defeated that easily most of the time, but Rodney's triumph over Camilla satisfies a deep-seated belief we all have that nice guys should win. When we learn on the last page that the rest of the rodents at P.S. 142 never teased Rodney again, we know as adults that to some extent that is the truth. The terrors of the schoolyard don't follow us all our lives. Those that are bullied are often the ones who succeed later in life. What is so satisfying about Wodney Wat is that he triumphs in the midst of his inadequacies, rather than because he overcame them.

Lynn Munsinger, who has illustrated many of Helen Lester's books, including the Tacky series, once again draws pictures which tell the story vibrantly. in pen and ink with watercolor washes, she deftly shows the action and the emotions of all the characters. Hooway for Wodney Wat is a great book and I hope you will get it for your collection.

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Comments 2 comments

HAexpressions profile image

HAexpressions 5 years ago

Great review and a great hub!


ajc_80 profile image

ajc_80 5 years ago from Northwest Ohio

I agree, I used to read these books to kindergarten classrooms in order to teach them about bullying and being kind to others. Great review!

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