I am quite literally "out of my mind" for the book, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. One part of teaching that I find a bit ironic for myself is that I work with students all school year on developing a passion to read in order to become lifelong readers. However, I go through stretches of the school year without reading a single book that I want to read for my own reading pleasure because I feel like I'm always reading and preparing for guided reading lessons. It is definitely a sacrifice that I'm willing to make in order to make students better readers. There are times though when a book comes along during middle school guided reading groups that I fall absolutely head over heels for right along with the students.
I've blogged previously about how I'm teaching "middle school guided reading" in summer school to students who are reading below grade level. You can imagine that there are several students who aren't overly enthused about the idea of being part of the reading groups during their summer vacation. This book has even made these students spark up a bit! :) Since I can never quite seem to let go of trying to get a double bang for my buck with spending time on something I do enjoy reading popular, newer books to see if I want to add them to our middle school book room. I thought it would be fun to share about the books that I read over my blog this summer in case there are other teachers out there looking for recommendations for their classroom libraries, school-wide book rooms, guided reading lessons, interactive read alouds, literature circles, etc. So here is my first try at it with the book, Out of My Mind.
The main character Melody is an eleven-year-old girl in the fifth grade who has cerebral palsy. Because of this, she is not able to walk or talk, but her brain functions completely normal. In fact, she has a photographic memory and is incredibly smart and insightful. Melody is trapped inside her body where from the outside, many people assume that she is incapable of communication and learning. From her perspective, she tells us what she remembers from when she was little through her adventures in kindergarten up until fifth grade. This includes being raised by two loving parents and an amazing neighbor lady named Mrs. V., getting her dog Butterscotch, the arrival of her younger sister Penny, switching to inclusion classes in the fifth grade, making the Whiz Kids team, and much, much more. In fifth grade Melody gets a Medi-Talker that allows her to communicate with others for the first time besides a very limited communication board that she had on her wheelchair. Some people don't seem like they're ready to accept that Melody can now share her thoughts with the world. The author, Sharon Draper, does an amazing job of showing the good as well as the bad with how people treat others who are different than them. She is very fair and from my personal experience in an education setting, accurate with her portrayal of people. She does this through Melody's voice alone. As a reader it makes you think about and question so many things about how our world works and really gets you to see life from a perspective that you've never imagined.
Recommended Uses for the Classroom:
1. Literature Circles: This book will create so much discussion for a group and really get students to dig deep into a topic that they may have never talked about before with one another.
2. Guided Reading: For middle school guided reading this book is gold! It is a Level S, so it is a relatively low reading level for middle school students. I always struggle to find high interest, love level books for students below grade level. This book has mature themes and ideas that would challenge any middle school mind but the words and structure are accessible to students at a lower reading level.
3. Interactive Read Aloud: I could see using this book at the beginning of the school year and reading it for 10-15 minutes daily, leaving time for students to turn and talk and have whole-group discussion. It would be a great lead-in to literature circles or guided reading as it would get students deeply talking about text.
4. Classroom Libraries: This would be a solid selection for any middle school classroom library and a book to recommend to readers who like realistic fiction, books told in first person point of view, or even students that are sometimes reluctant to read.
Great for Teaching the Following Concepts:
-First Person Point of View
Age Level Recommended For:
I would recommend this book to be taught at the middle school level (5-8). Although it is leveled at an "S", it has mature themes that can be dug into deeply. I can see 7th and 8th grade students especially really having a lot to say about this book. Also, if you are an adult looking for a great book to read over the summer, don't hesitate to pick this book up.