As some of you know, I am in the field of education more specifically Early Childhood Education ,and Special Education. One day while I was doing my student teaching, I walked into the classroom and found a gift on my desk with a note attached “for ms. Regis”. (SN: If you love gifts, you should definitely consider being a teacher because my babies spoiled me with notes and candy, you name it 🙂 ) But anyways I smiled and opened my gift, and it was a book “Out Of My Mind” By Sharon Draper, with the dedication “My favorite book, for my favorite teacher”. I turned to my student who was standing by my desk smiling, and she told me that it was her favorite book ever and that she knew that I would love it, so she made her mom buy me a copy. Right then I knew that this book would have a very special meaning to me without even knowing what it was about. Because of my hectic schedule my junior year, I never had the time to even open the book let alone read it. But this semester I took some time to read the and read it. The whole time that I was reading it, I kept thinking about my student and how well she knew because indeed, I fell in love with the book.
Out of My Mind is the story of a little girl named Melody who has Cerebral Palsy. For those who are not familiar with the condition, CP is a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking. In Melody’s case, she could not walk, talk, write, or perform any of her daily activities by herself. The book is written from her perspective, explaining the frustration of being trapped inside your own body as an eleven year old. Her biggest dream is to be able to express her self. She dreams of words, all those words that she knew but are stuck inside her head because she is not able to express herself. Until the day that her parents found a device that would allow her to speak. A machine that became her voice, and allowed everyone to discover how smart Melody really was.
I, my self as being in the special education field had never tried to put my self in the shoes of those who are labeled with a disability. I have worked with students with Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, students with processing disorder, and speech disorders. I have seen first hand how difficult it is for some of these children to have a normal life like their peers when dealing with a disability that they can’t control. I have a special place in my heart for these children because they have to overcome so many boundaries on a daily basis. Reading the book allowed me to look inside a child’s mind that was never able to express herself. Going through life and not being able to say what you want to eat, or hold your parents’ hands, wanting to say so much but every time you open your mouth a weird noise comes out… I appreciated the fact that I was able to read her thoughts, her feelings, her fears, her likes and dislikes, and took a look of what is really going on inside of her mind. This book made me laugh, cry, happy, sad, angry… I was on an emotional roller coaster.
Many schools have now included this book in their libraries because it is a great lesson on empathy in children, as well as bullying prevention. Anyone who works with children, or have children who can read on a 3rd grade level or above should consider reading the book, as well as sharing it with their children.