Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

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Our students are on summer vacation now, but if I could get our 4th through 8th graders gathered together for a few minutes, I would push hard for all of them to add Sharon Draper’s new middle grade novel to their summer reading list. As other reviewers and bloggers have suggested, Out of My Mind should be required reading for many students.  It is the story of a girl named Melody, a ten-year-old who has cerebral palsy which limits her body, but not her mind.

Melody’s story is powerful because she tells it.  She tells the reader exactly what it feels like to be misunderstood and let down by adults and kids. Out of My Mind would be a great book for kids to read with a teacher because there are so many possibilities for discussion.  This book is written for just the right age group. Eleven and twelve-year-olds are all about trying to figure out who they are by identifying what they are not.  Melody’s story forces them to reconsider how we make judgments and the price of small cruelties.

Draper’s wonderful novel is definitely on my list for next year, but in the meantime I may keep a copy in my car – just in case I see any of my students at the grocery store.

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