By Mari Chiles
Out Of My Mind, by Sharon Draper (Atheneum Books)
Out Of My Mind is a book about a disabled girl, Melody, who can't walk or talk. Most people don't think that kids like her understand anything or can learn, but Melody knows she can. And she finally gets to show it.
In the beginning of the book, Melody is stuck inside her mind and she can't get out of it. The same pre-school lessons every day are starting to get more and more boring. She can't tell anyone what she is thinking, and no one understands her or thinks she can learn anything. But when Melody finally gets a device that can say what is on her mind she can communicate a little better. But that doesn't mean that people still want to be around her even though she is just like them. This book tells how a disabled girl can finally convey to people what is going on inside of her mind and that anyone, no matter what the disability, can do something amazing.
Out Of My Mind is great for kids ages 10 and up who love realistic fiction and like to solve problems that would usually happen in real life. People who would relate to it may be kids with family members, friends, or schoolmates with that kind of condition. Being exposed to people with disabilities may make it easier to understand what is going on in the book or to relate to Melody.
I loved Out of My Mind because it allowed me to see what it must be like to have a hard time communicating when you really want to talk to someone. I used to have a cousin who couldn't walk or talk either and through Melody's story, I almost could see what my cousin was going through. I also liked how at the end Melody was able to speak in her own way and do something that a person with her disability had never done before.
To enhance your child's reading experience:
- Challenge your child to communicate without talking or writing for an hour. Afterward, ask him to recount what it felt like to not have a voice or control over the way he communicates with others.
- If her teacher and the school allows, have your child volunteer in one of her school's special needs classes. It's a great way for her to have peer-to-peer interaction with children who would appreciate the connection.