Monday, April 27, 2015

Our Current Chapter Book-Out of My Mind

I love participating in teacher groups on Facebook and following other educators on Twitter. One downside to it is there are times when I read or participate in conversations that make my blood boil. For example, I was following a chat by an author that I actually very much admire. They were talking about "rules" for reading kids chapter books. The protagonist should only be 2 years older than your students-according to the experts. A teacher asked if the book Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper was appropriate for 3rd Graders. Well, I replied that I am actually reading it right now to my gifted Kinders. You would have thought I said I don't believe in TPT or something by the response! I was told that was inappropriate. That there's no way these kids could understand that book. It actually made me wonder if any of them had actually read the story.

Well, I respectfully disagree. I very much think they understand this book. One of my students even has a cousin with cerebral palsy-they have been able to really connect with that theme. If you haven't read the book, it's told from the perspective of a little girl growing up with cerebral palsy. She can't walk or talk but is very intelligent and ends up trying out for the school quiz team. What I really like about the story is the ending is not the typical happy ending you expect reading it. She faces some serious discrimination. I would not recommend it for a child this age to read themselves, but certainly a chapter a day read by me and guidance in answering any questions or explaining anything they don't understand--I think it's completely appropriate.

I asked my students to think from the perspective of the main character, Melody. I can tell from their answers that they understand completely!

If I were Melody and did not have the talking device, I would do the tornado a lot of times.

I would be the strongest girl in the world and say words know what means and how to inspire to be a superstar.

I would think about my family and be the smartest girl in the world. I will not let my family down forever.

I would be sad that I do not have a voice and I want to so so so so so so so much. I wnat to be the queen of smart.

I would wish I could talk without the computer.

I would stare at my teacher.

It would be better in Heaven so I can see God.

It would be boring. I can't want or talk by myself.

My life would be terrible. You know why? Because someone has to help, that's why.

I know if you put yourself out there sometimes there will be pushback for your ideas. Especially if you are like me and sometimes have crazy ideas! :)  But I have no question that I made the right choice for my kiddos.


  1. WOW. Their insights were really ... insightful (hey, it's Monday night and I'm not feeling particularly eloquent ... :P). I am truly amazed as I never would have thought to read Out of my Mind to kinders. Having followed your blog for long enough to know you are not in the process denying them of picture book read alouds I say "Go for it!" That is one concern for me when people try to "challenge" kids. I'm all for that ... but let's not in the process miss all of the beautiful picture books they won't ever go back and read later when they are older. That pains me the most when I hear "You need to go get a chapter book" to many kinder/first graders. So many of them would have done just fine IF NOT BETTER with more picture books. Better readers? Read more picture books. Struggling? Read fewer but spend more time. Because as soon as they start looking in the chapter book section they start picking things they don't remotely understand thinking because it's big and heavy that makes them look smart. It's a never, ever ending gentle discussion.

  2. I completely agree Ms. O. When they are reading on their own-I do still encourage them to stay in the picture book section. I do a student book club with our 3rd-5th graders and it really irks me that they won't take the picture books we are assigned (which are on their level, are quality books and often great stories about people they didn't know about previously) because the teachers won't let them count that as reading for their reading log. Grrrr.

  3. I personally read that book. What a great read and very eye opening.

  4. They are really into it now. I even had a student begging me to read another chapter when they were in the middle of their quiz competition! That's always a good sign. :)