A must-read for kids of any age, Out of My Mind is a moving story about a young girl with cerebral palsy and her fight to prove herself to everyone around her. This book touches upon sensitive topics and reminds us to not let our disabilities define us.
A New York Times bestseller for three years and counting!
“A gutsy, candid, and compelling story. It speaks volumes.” —School Library Journal (starred review) “Unflinching and realistic.” —KirkusReviews (starred review)
From award-winning author Sharon Draper comes a story that will forever change how we all look at anyone with a disability, perfect for fans of RJ Palacio’s Wonder.
Eleven-year-old Melody is not like most people. She can’t walk. She can’t talk. She can’t write. All because she has cerebral palsy. But she also has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but NO ONE knows it. Most people—her teachers, her doctors, her classmates—dismiss her as mentally challenged because she can’t tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by her disability. And she’s determined to let everyone know it...somehow.
Sharon M. Draper is a three-time New York Times bestselling author for Out of My Mind, Blended, and Out of My Heart. She’s also won Coretta Scott King Awards for Copper Sun and Forged by Fire and multiple honors. She’s also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens. Sharon taught high school English for twenty-five years and was named National Teacher of the Year. She now lives in Florida. Visit her at SharonDraper.com.
Reading Group Guide
A Reading Group Guide to Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
1. The novel opens with a powerful discussion of the power of words and language. How does this help capture the reader’s attention? What predictions can the reader make about the narrator of the story? What inferences can be made about the thought processes of the narrator’s mind?
2. In a world that does not work for her, what seems to cause the biggest frustrations for Melody?
3. Describe Melody’s parents. How do they learn to communicate with Melody and help her to overcome everyday problems? Why are those efforts sometimes a complete failure?
4. How does Melody feel about school? How does she fit in with her classmates and what makes her different from the rest of the children in H-5? What would be Melody’s ideal school situation?
5. Discuss Melody’s teachers since she began going to school. What does this say about her school system, or about attitudes at her school about teaching children with special needs?
6. Describe Mrs. V. What role does she play in Melody’s development? Why is she a necessary addition to Melody’s life?
7. What is significant about the story of Ollie the fish? How does Ollie’s life mirror Melody’s? Describe Melody’s feelings when she is unable to tell her mother what really happened.
8. Describe how the introduction of Penny as a character changes the family dynamics. Analyze Melody’s complicated feelings about her little sister.
9. How does the inclusion program change Melody’s school experiences? Describe both positive and negative results of the program. Describe Melody’s deep, unrealized need for a friend.
10. What does Melody learn about friendship during the trip to the aquarium? Make a comparison between Ollie’s life, the life of the fish in the aquarium, and Melody’s life.
11. How does Melody’s computer change her life, her outlook on life, and her potential? Why does she name it Elvira?
12. Why does Melody decide to enter the quiz team competition? What obstacles must she face and overcome just to get on the team?
13. What does Melody learn about friendship and the relationships of children working together as she practices and competes with the quiz team? What does she learn about herself?
14. What is ironic about the events at the restaurant after the competition? How does this scene foreshadow the events that led up to the airport fiasco?
15. Describe Melody’s feelings before the trip to the airport, while she is there, and after she gets home. How would you have coped with the same situation?
16. Describe Melody’s extreme range of emotions as she tries to tell her mother that Penny is behind the car. How did the scene make you feel?
17. Discuss the scene in which Melody confronts the kids on the quiz team. What is satisfying about how she handles the situation? What else might Melody have done?
18. Why is the first page repeated at the end of the book? How has Melody changed, both personally and socially, from the beginning of the book to the end?
19. How would this story have been different if it had been written from a third-person point of view; from the point of view of her parents, for example, or simply from the viewpoint of an outside observer?
20. Explain the title of the novel. Give several possible interpretations.
Activities and Research
1. Put yourself in Melody’s chair. Write a paper that tells what it would be like to be Melody for one day. Write about your feelings and frustrations.
2. Investigate the problems of children with cerebral palsy, especially those that are of school age. How does it affect the child socially, academically, and personally?
3. Investigate the possible causes of cerebral palsy, and what preventative measures, if any, can be taken by the mother.
4. Research current laws for inclusion of children with disabilities into classrooms. What effect, if any, do such things have on a school community?
5. Research current treatment options or communication devices for young people like Melody.
6. Write a letter to one of the characters in the book explaining your feelings about the events in the story. What advice would you give Melody, Rose, Mr. D, or Mrs. V?
7. Describe the relationship between the able-bodied children and Melody. Would you describe it as a true friendship? When situations become monumental and overwhelming to young people, what is likely to happen? Explain.
8. Imagine it is the last day of fifth grade. Write a letter or create a conversation between one of the following pairs of characters:
Rose and Melody
Melody and Mrs. V
Melody and Catherine
Mr. D and Melody
Melody and Claire
9. Trace the story of one of the following characters. Imagine you are a reporter doing a story on one of their lives. Write everything you know, as well as whatever you can infer about the character in order to write your magazine article.
10. You are a reporter at one of the following scenes. Write the story for your newspaper.
Student with Disabilities makes Quiz Team
Child Struck by Family Car
Big Storm Grounds Air Traffic
Local Quiz Team Wins Big
This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
If you ask me, Thanksgiving is all about comfort: from the apple pie to the parade to the family time to the stretchy pants to accommodate all that delicious food. While YA novels deal with a lot of darkness, from lost love to dystopian tyranny, there are plenty of YA books that just makes you […]
Growing up isn’t always easy. And sometimes, it’s really hard to just fit in. Kids can feel all alone and incredibly confused. The good news is there are a lot of outcasts out there and books often show us just how heroic it can be to wave your outcast flag in public. By staying true […]
Sharon M. Draper is a children’s book author to know. She’s an award-winning educator and author of books for kids and teens. She’s a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Literary Awards and in 2015 she received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime literary achievement from the American Library Association. So definitely a […]
I got the chance to see Judy Blume for the first time in person at a recent book festival, and I was giddy. You’re looking at a diehard Judy Blume fan. I love her heart and her humor. Her characters are more than believable; they’re lovable. She’s such a pro at poking fun at adults… and her voice, oh her voice. It’s hard to think of other middle grade contemporary writers who might compare to Judy-the-Great. (Hello! She’s has […]
In recent years, the children’s book industry has seen increased pressure from readers for books that truly reflect all parts of our society. With that has come a slow emergence of characters in middle grade who experiences the same highs and lows of adolescence, the same challenges of middle school, and the same beginning and ending […]