Out of My Mind

by Sharon M. Draper
Grade 5-6


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.

Discussion questions from SOMN

  • 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?
  • How does the inclusion program change Melody’s school experiences, both positively and negatively?
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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?

Classroom activities from SOMN

  • Write “cerebral palsy” on chart paper. Students can research what it means and share their thoughts on the chart.
  • Research current laws for inclusion of children with disabilities into classrooms. What effect, if any, do such things have on a school community?
  • 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