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Book Club Kits: Out of My Mind

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there's no delete button. She's the smartest kid in her whole school-but NO ONE knows it.

Most people-her teachers and doctors included-don't think she's capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows. But she can't. She can't talk. She can't walk. She can't write.

Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mind-that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.

From multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper comes a story full of heartache and hope. Get ready to meet a girl whose voice you'll never, ever forget.

Discussion Questions

  1. For Melody, what seems to be the most challenging thing about not being able to speak? Have you ever tried to go for any particular length of time without speaking? What was challenging for you, or what do you imagine would be challenging?
  2. Why is music important to Melody? Why is it important in this story?
  3. What do you think about Melody’s appointment with Dr. Hugely? How does Melody’s mom respond to the doctor’s diagnosis that her daughter is “severely brain-damaged and profoundly retarded?” How might Melody’s life have been different if her mother had responded in a different way?
  4. 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?
  5. Why is Melody so excited to join the inclusion class?
  6. What purpose does Mrs. V fill in Melody’s life?
  7. What is it like when Melody meets Rose for the first time? What kind of person and friend do you think Rose is? Do you think she’s a true friend to Melody? Why or why not?
  8. 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.
  9. How does Melody's computer change her life, her outlook on life, and her potential? Why does she name it Elvira?
  10. When Melody gets the best score on Mr. Dimming’s quiz, some of the other kids accuse her of cheating. Why do they do that, and how do you think Melody feels about it? Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do?
  11. When the quiz team goes on to Washington, DC without Melody, what does it show about them? What does her response - and the way she confronts them - show about her?
  12. Do you think Melody is different in any way at the end of the book? How?
  13. Explain the title of the novel. Give several possible interpretations.

Activities and Research

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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 Catherine        Melody and Claire

Melody and Mrs. V               Mr. D and Melody

About Author

Sharon M. Draper is a three-time New York Times bestselling author and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens. She has received the Coretta Scott King Award for both Copper Sun and Forged by Fire and was awarded the Charlotte Huck Award for Stella by Starlight. Her novel Out of My Mind has won multiple awards and was a New York Times bestseller for over three years, and Blended has also been a New York Times bestseller. She taught high school English for twenty-five years and was named National Teacher of the Year. She now lives in Florida. Visit her at