A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Eerdmans, 2008. 34 pages.river of words

Reading Level: Picture Books, ages 4-8, 8-12
Maturity Level: 2, 3, 4

Although poetry anchored William Carlos Williams, he was much more than a poet; Bryant and Sweet work seamlessly together to tell his story from his early days in school to his decision to practice medicine. Poetry provided rest for Williams, but he knew he needed to earn a living and enjoyed taking care of people. Thus, he sacrificially relegated poetry to his evening hours and worked long days as a doctor in a small town. Sweet’s mixed-media illustrations include many of Williams’s poems even as they show a gentle man growing older. This book is a well-written, well-illustrated introduction to the famous poet and his contribution to American poetry. In many ways, this picture book actually illuminates his poetry and makes it more accessible to students laboring to “get” the chickens and the red wheelbarrow.

Cautions: none

Overall Value: 4.5 out of 5

  • Worldview/Moral Value: 4
  • Literary Value: 5

Categories: Picture Books, Auto/Biography, Language Arts, Poetry, Education, Award Winners (Caldecott Honor)

Cover image from amazon

FREE Summer Reading Book List

More than 75 books for children and teens, all about islands, oceans, and more. Bonus: get a free hand-drawn reading tracker!

Reading Ahead for You

Reviews and Resources Weekly in Your Inbox
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.


Betsy is the Managing Editor at Redeemed Reader. When she reads ahead for you, she uses sticky notes instead of book darts and willfully dog ears pages even in library books. Betsy is a fan of George MacDonald, robust book discussions, and the Oxford comma. She lives with her husband and their three children in the beautiful Northwest.

Leave a Comment