OUT OF MY MIND- Sharon Draper

I'm wishing that I was teaching fifth grade this fall. I already have my first few read alouds picked out. I'd start with NO TALKING by Andrew Clements. Then I'd do one of my all time favorites, HOW TO STEAL A DOG by Barbara O'Connor. After that, I would read MOCKINGBIRD, one of my favorites from this summer, and then I'd move to my newest favorite, OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper. (I'm thinking that when TOUCH BLUE, Cynthia Lord's newest book comes out, it might go on this list also). All of these books, I think, are great tools for opening conversations about how we treat each other, and helping kids understand and respect the differences in other people.

OUT OF MY MIND is the story of Melody, an exceptionally gifted eleven-year-old, who lives with her mom and dad, her baby sister, Penny, and her golden retriever. Melody is absolutely brilliant, but the problem is, very few people know it, because Melody was born unable to speak or walk. No one except Melody's mom and dad and her neighbor, Ms. V. recognize her brilliance and she spends her days in the self-contained special education classroom at Spalding Street Elementary School, where she learns the alphabet and sings from kindergarten CD's year after year after year. When Melody is in fifth grade her world changes. She gets a speaking machine (which she promptly names Elvira) and can finally communicate everything that she is thinking. She is able to try out for the Whiz Kids team, a kind of brain bowl. She makes the team, but still isn't like the other kids and still isn't totally accepted by them…

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this book. Sharon Draper does an amazing job helping readers to get inside Melody's head and understand that despite the fact that Melody's body is different, she is just the same as any other human being. She wants to to be invited to pizza parties and trips to the mall, to have friends and be accepted, just like all of us do. And I can't even begin to imagine the conversations that kids would have around last fifty pages…