Why I liked it: Author Sharon Draper has the ability to tell it like it is, to tell the stories of the often overlooked lives without creating sympathy or pity for the characters, and Out of My Mind is no exception. She doesn't shy away from any issues, even uncomfortable ones, like how difficult it is for Melody to go to the bathroom or the embarrassment of having to be fed, but does so without creating pity for Melody. The first person narration allows us to see first hand the struggles of being a young girl and a student with physical limitations, but that ultimately Melody wants the same things as any girl her age: friendship and a sense of belonging.
Classroom application: Out of My Mind would be an excellent read aloud choice for grades 4-8 and could be paired with nonfiction texts to be used in a unit on disabilities and/or differences. The novel could also be offered as a choice for literature circle on the same topics. Two books I used previously in 7th and 8th grades on these topics were Tangerine by Edward Bloor and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
During or after reading Out of My Mind would be an excellent time for students to engage in a service learning project with other students with special needs whether it would be another classroom within the same school or an outside organization.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Out Of My Mind for yourself, you can find it on Amazon
For more reading suggestions for students and teachers: