From Childhood Stutterer to Darth Vader and Beyond!

Darth Vader

Did you know that Darth Vader used to stutter? And so did Mufasa from The Lion King! How could these rough and tough characters stutter? Why have you never heard of this before?

The answer is that both parts were played by the actor James Earl Jones.

James Earl Jones

And when he was young, before he became a star actor, he used to stutter. Stuttering is a speech disorder when one repeats sounds without forming a word.

Stuttering was just one part of a tough start to life for Mr. Jones. His parents were unable to take care of him so he moved to live with his grandparents in Michigan. This is when he developed a severe stutter.

It was only when he entered high school that his English teacher, Donald Crouch, helped him to beat stuttering. Mr. Crouch saw that he had a gift for poetry. He urged Mr. Jones to challenge himself. Through determination and years of hard work, Mr. Jones overcame his stuttering by practicing poetry, public speaking, and acting.

Although it was a hard road, he was able to break through. Now Mr. Jones has become of the greatest actors in American History. And his voice is one of the most known in the world. If not for his hard work and a teacher who believed in him, Star Wars, The Lion King and American drama would not be the same!

His life is a great example of the power of perseverance and becoming the best version of yourself. Check out the story of James Earl Jones below.

Additional Resources:

Topics for Discussion:

  • What values does Mr. Jones exhibit?
  • Can you think of a teacher or other person who has believed in you?  How have they helped you improve yourself?
  • What is one lesson you can learn and apply in your own life from Mr. Jones?

Take Action:

  • Help someone else in need.  Find a child with special needs in your school or neighborhood and try to become their friend.
  • If you ever see someone with special needs being teased or bullied, stick up for them and tell a teacher or adult immediately.
  • Think about a big goal that you have.  It could be for school, for family, or any other important area of your life.  Write it down, using this goal worksheet or create your own worksheet.  Keep track of your progress, stick with it and reward yourself when you have completed it.  Keep doing this and you will be surprised at how much you can achieve.

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.


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