Cover Image: The Rock in My Throat

The Rock in My Throat

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Member Reviews

An interesting and artistic portrayal of the struggles of an immigrant child. Never before have I seen a concrete representation of the experience of selective mutism. It's quite symbolic so it may be difficult for some young readers to understand.

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The Rock in My Throat is a beautiful story of a girl with selective mutism due to the bullying and racism she and her family experienced when immigrating to America.

The pictures so wonderfully show what Kao is feeling inside, even when she can't make herself speak about it. The microaggressions, from the teachers saying her name wrong to the supermarket cashier being rude to her mother, are based on real experiences the author endured. This is an important kids book to share with a loved one.

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This book is beautiful. It truly shows that kindness, understanding, companion can go a long way. My heart hurt for the author. Being a first generation Lao American the language barrier can make quite the chasm between people. I hope this book gives hope to those who need it and inspire those who can help lift others up

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with this book for free in exchange for my review! All opinions are my own.

This was a beautiful and powerful book and I highly recommend that adults go out and purchase this book to read to young children in their life. This book teaches many valuable and important lessons -- but above all to be kind. This is one of the most moving children's books I have ever read and I highly recommend it!!

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An excellent book for building empathy and understanding for kids who are learning English and having a rough transition to school's in the US. I wish every teacher and person who works with kids would read this book.

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"For everyone who has trouble speaking, trouble being heard, for everyone has lived without understanding on their side"

Kao Kalia Yang's The Rock in my Throat is the thoughtful and artful story of her struggles to adapt to America and speaking English as a second language when her family fled the refugee camps of Thailand. She was only seven years old, but the impatient harshness she and her family faced when trying to speak English caused her to become a selective mute, feeling "a rock" in her throat and unable to speak up. This inability to speak more than a whisper followed her through university.

This is such an important book, for anyone young or old, who is having trouble adapting to a new culture or who needs to learn a little compassion for those adapting.

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"The Rock in My Throat" is a must read for every teacher. Beautifully written and illustrated, Kao Kalia Yang gives an authentic portrayal of immigrant experience. The culture shock, the absent sense of belonging, and loneliness are palpable. It is not enough for us to only open our classroom door, we need to facilitate the sense of social connection and acceptance for all students new to our class. 5 out of 5!

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A cute children's book with an important message on immigration and how it feels to be an ESL speaker. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story itself is great but the text seemed to be a bit long on certain pages.

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This is a beautifully told story of the author growing up and becoming selectively mute in English (a second language for her). The illustrations are lovely as well.

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I have read this author before, and I never regret it and this was no exception.
A beautifully told and gorgeously illustrated story about a young refugee girl [the author, when she was a child], new to the US, struggles to use her voice in this new world and ultimately selects to be mute every place but home [and in the authors note at the end, we learn this lasted until adulthood for her] and how that affects her in her everyday life and in school. The author's note at the end and the list of Hmong words and how to pronounce them really adds to this story and will engage all who read it.

This will really resonate with all children and adults that read it [and everyone should be reading this to their children or the children in their lives], but it will be especially poignant to those who struggle to find their OWN voices and to those who currently are selectively mute and will, perhaps, give them hope that one day, they too will be able to find their own voice.

Very well done and highly recommended.

Thank you to NetGalley, Kao Kalia Yang, Jiemei Lin - Illustrator, and Lerner Publishing Group/Carolrhoda Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book is written in the most beautiful way. Every illustration is an enhancement of the emotions that the words bring up. For every child who has ever struggled to be heard, to feel seen, this book is for you. It is the story of a little girl who cannot speak at school, where everyone speaks English as their first language. She feels stuck, unseen and unheard. It brought up a lot of emotions when I read it with my seven-year-old. We talked afterward about how I used to be the quiet kid in class, wishing I could speak Spanish like so many of my friends spoke. He is not a quiet kid and we talked about how it would be helpful to pause and encourage others to speak at times too. This is a must-have book for all kids.

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The Rock in My Throat
by Kao Kalia Yang
As a teacher you will find a new student that has a particular situation that is strange. In many cases the teachers despite all the work or attempts help their students have to deal with the problems. In many cases immigrant children, especially children that are part of the refugee waves, have problems with language. The fact that she was able to finish school and college without speaking in English the whole time is a mark of her intelligence. It happens sometimes that in Education these things stand out to teachers. I can see why her teachers went to her readings, just to hear her voice. I think this is a great book for teachers, to discuss the connections with these groups, but also to understand that though they did not connect with every student, the do make an impact.

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The Rock in My Throat is a memoir in the form of a children’s book, sharing the author’s experiences of selective mutism and living in two worlds: the home she shares with her Hmong-speaking family; and the English-speaking world, which does not make the time for or respect Yang’s mother when she struggles with English.

The illustrations are gorgeous and the muted color palette fits the heavier themes of the 32-page story. Yang’s writing is concise. Emotions like embarrassment, shame, and longing are heavy on the page and beautifully, albeit painfully, conveyed.

It has been more than a decade since I read Kao Kalia Yang’s The Late Homecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, but it was a book that has stayed with me. The Rock in My Throat has no less staying power, and I plan to be more intentional in seeking out work by the author.

Highly recommend this book for classrooms and libraries, as fostering understanding among differences is as important now as it ever was.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was so moving! I loved everything about it and so did my group of 6-9 year olds. They loved seeing Kalia's perspective of having trouble with a new language and came away with greater understanding of their own classmates struggles. They understood to be more patient and kind to friends whose primary language is not English as theirs is.

Everything about this book was powerful and moving. I hope to own a physical copy for our shelves!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC! All opinions are my own.

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"The Rock In My Throat" by Kao Kalia Yang is a poignant and beautifully crafted memoir that resonates with raw emotion and profound insight. Through lyrical prose and vivid storytelling, Yang invites readers into the heart of her experiences as a Hmong American woman navigating the complexities of identity, belonging, and trauma.

At its core, "The Rock In My Throat" is a deeply personal exploration of Yang's journey to reclaim her voice and reconcile the fractured pieces of her cultural heritage. From her childhood in a Hmong refugee camp in Thailand to her adolescence in the United States, Yang traces the threads of her family's history with grace and honesty.

One of the most compelling aspects of the memoir is Yang's ability to illuminate the resilience and strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Despite the traumas and hardships she has endured, Yang emerges as a beacon of hope and resilience, refusing to be defined by the wounds of her past.

Central to Yang's narrative is her exploration of language as a tool for both connection and estrangement. As a child, she grapples with the limitations of translation and the struggle to express herself in a world that often dismisses her voice. Yet, through her writing, Yang finds a means of reclaiming her narrative and honoring the stories of her ancestors.

Moreover, "The Rock In My Throat" is a testament to the power of storytelling as a means of healing and empowerment. Yang's prose is imbued with a sense of urgency and authenticity that draws readers into her world, inviting them to bear witness to the complexities of her journey.

In addition to its emotional depth, the memoir also serves as a powerful indictment of the systemic injustices and inequalities faced by marginalized communities, both in the United States and abroad. Through Yang's eyes, readers gain a deeper understanding of the intersectionality of race, class, and gender, and the ways in which these intersecting identities shape our lived experiences.

In conclusion, "The Rock In My Throat" is a compelling and evocative memoir that speaks to the universal human experience of longing, loss, and resilience. Kao Kalia Yang's powerful storytelling and unflinching honesty make this book a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the complexities of cultural identity and the enduring power of the human spirit

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This poignant story of a young girl looking in from the outside of her classmates and the community. She navigates a world that looks down on those that who don't speak English well. She shares the emotions and the challenges of being a young girl who has to translate for her parents to communicate with teachers, community members, etc. In order to protect herself, she shuts down and chooses not to speak at all.
As a retired teacher, I was heartbroken for this child and all those like her. I think this would be a wonderful book to use as a read aloud and create a meaningful discussion with elementary students about ways to work on including all students in recess, conversations, etc.
The author's note was a very good explanation of why this book needed to be written for the author. I know it made me revisit how I need to demonstrate patience and kindness when communicating with others.
If you have young children or students, I recommend this story to share and talk about how we can show compassion for others.

Thank you Net Galley for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

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I'm so thankful that Kao Kalia Yang found her voice in writing. In this beautifully illustrated picture book, she tells the story of how she stopped speaking in school between first and second grade. She manages to convey the heaviness of her emotions which shut down her ability to speak English in a child-friendly way. The ending is a bit abrupt as she shares her wish to have Julia as a friend. Reading the author's note, I learned that did happen, but unfortunately most young readers won't read those notes. They also won't necessarily know that she did ultimately begin to speak English when she was in college. Adults will want to tell children that Kao Kalia did eventually find her voice as they share this with kids struggling to find their own voices.

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The Rock in My Throat is a wonderful and needed contribution to children’s literature. The story is heartbreaking, and yet beautiful. Yang gives the reader a glimpse into the traumas that can arise when you must leave your home to move to a new country and are thrown into a world where words are strange and the people impatient. This book is not only perfect for immigrants to see themselves,and children and families who know immigrants to build empathy, but also for any child who struggles to find their words in a world that moves so fast.

The illustrations are exquisite and complement the story in mood and detail. The images deftly reflect the trepidation of young Yang, how nature comforts her, and how her family, teachers, and peers are confused about how to help.

Thank you to Lerner Publishing Group, Carolrhoda Books, Netgalley, and the author and illustrator for early access to this important work.

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Beautifully written. You really feel for the child that Kao Kalia Yang was and her struggles to express herself in the English language.

I can relate as a child of an immigrant. I was also a selective mute and labeled “shy” on almost every report card I ever received in grade school. Expressing yourself in another language is often difficult, but even more so when you feel pressured to do so or just cannot think of the words. For sensitive children, this can make it difficult to engage others in conversation and more likely for us to shut down.

This book is important and should be in every classroom. It will help not only the children who can relate to the main character, but also the adults who are so quick to label children instead of understanding what is going on in their minds.

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Amazing. So simply conveyed, so moving, so eye-opening. So important and meaningful. The illustrations are beautiful and convey just as much as the words, which are also extremely well-done. The message is weaved in a way that flows, and it is both educational and beautiful. Thank you for sharing this story with me.

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