Mother and son duo — Kimberly Garvin and Saadiq Wicks — collaborated on the book When Oliver Speaks, an inspiring children’s book about a young boy who struggles to overcome his stutter while finding the courage to accept it. The pair came up with the concept while riding the train to Camp SAY. Saadiq told his mother he’d like to write a book, so Kimberly took out her phone, opened the notes, and Saadiq told his story.
Where did you get the idea for the book? What inspired you to write it?
SW: I wanted to write the book because I thought it would be cool for kids who stutter to have something physical to support them in their speech journey. I always used to wish I had a book that would help me be more confident or more vocal or help me to remember that I am not alone. It’s rare that people who stutter ever get a chance to meet anyone else that stutters. Unless you go to one of the organizational conferences…but sometimes you don’t really learn about them until well into your stuttering years.
KG: Saadiq inspired me to write the book. It was all him. I just happened to have the phone and am a better typist than he. I think I could be responsible for the name. I’d given Saadiq a few to choose from, understanding that we wanted the main character (Oliver) to look and sound smart. After a few times replacing names in the title we agreed on Oliver.
What is the main message of your book?
SW: The message of the book is that we can do anything. That it doesn’t matter what your difference is or even how different your difference makes you…YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!
KG: The main message of the book is to understand that we all have differences…that one thing or maybe two things about ourselves that we don’t like and/or wish we could change. And, sometimes you can…like you can lose weight or change your hair color. But then there are those things that are such a part of us that you can’t change them as much as you can embrace them and learn how to navigate life with it. And, that thing does not define you and through it all being your best self is what’s most important.
How have people reacted to your book?
SW: People have said it was the greatest book of all time. Kids who stutter are super happy they have a book. A mom thanked me for creating a book in which her kid was able to see himself. It makes me feel good to hear that people really get it.
KG: The reaction to the book has been absolutely wonderful. It always surprises me to see the number of people that have come out to hear an author talk (we’ve done a few at local libraries), or to see pictures of kids holding When Oliver Speaks, or when kiddos come up to Saadiq and talk to him after one meeting and their parents share with me that their child rarely speaks, but felt comfortable enough to speak to Saadiq. I think it’s great. Saadiq is their voice. Oliver is their voice. And, kiddos and parents have accepted and welcomed him into their lives.
Are you going to continue writing? What is your next project?
SW: Yes. My mom and I finished a follow up book that we are going to start production on over the summer. And we may have a few more after that.
Can you tell us about your foundation?
KG: Lllet Me Finish was founded when Saadiq was about 9 years old. He started it after he had been bullied for his speech. Initially LMF was a Facebook page where he would blog about his experiences as a person who stutters. Saadiq would share his speech goals, challenge people to stutter for a day so they could understand how he felt, give a shout out to a waitress who didn’t break eye contact while he ordered...and conversely, he wrote about those people who weren’t so patient. It was about 6 months in that he wanted to create a nonprofit because he wanted to raise money so that kids (especially those kids in Urban areas) could experience Camp SAY. Long term, his goal is to travel to Japan and other countries where people who stutter are more ostracized to help encourage and support those kids.
What else should we know?
KG: When Oliver Speaks is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (in stores and online). If you haven’t picked up a copy of the story, please do so. Any kid would adore it. And, Saadiq does author visits to schools and holds anti-bullying assemblies…schools and other organizations interested should reach out to us/him via his Lllet Me Finish Facebook page.
When Oliver Speaks first came out in 2017 and Saadiq and Kimberly say readers can expect a sequel to come out sometime later this year.
About Saadiq and Kimberly
- They are from Voorhees, New Jersey.
- Kimberly is a 5th grade English teacher who manages her son’s non-profit, Lllet Me Finish, and is a published author of both adult fiction and children’s literature.
- Saadiq is a junior in high school and hopes to attend Clark Atlanta University to possibly major in music.
- Saadiq has an older sister, Sydni, who lives in Atlanta and owns her own clothing company, First Class Collection.
If anyone has questions, comments, or suggestions, you can reach out to Saadiq and Kimberly on the Lllet Me Finish Facebook page.
Posted Feb. 24, 2019