Wow! So, this book totally surprised me! I picked it up to start reading right before bed on a Saturday night at 11:00, figuring I would read for a few minutes until I fell asleep. At 3:25 in the morning, I finished the book! It has been a long time since I read a book that I couldn't put down even when I was really tired!
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is written at about a 4th grade reading level (Lexile 700), and it is about an 11 year old fifth grader who suffers from Cerebal Palsy. Melody is confined to a wheelchair because of her disease, and she is unable to communicate because she physically can't talk or write. Since she is unable to tell anyone what she knows, her teachers and doctors assume that her disability is mental as well as physical. She is relegated to a self-contained classroom of severely disabled children and taught the same alphabet lessons over and over again. When she finally gets to be included in regular classes during her fifth grade year, Melody finds the inspiration to advocate for herself and help to obtain a communication device that allows her to show the world how much she knows. What happens when she can communicate is nothing short of wondrous. This story is gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, sweet, and inspiring. Ms. Draper does a wonderful job sharing the point of view of someone from whom we may be surprised to hear.
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.