Dear Sharon Draper,
Your book changed me. Out of My Mind helped me open my eyes wider. It made me look at others differently. I used to look at some people and think ‘They’re disabled. They look and act different, but I still need to treat them nicely.’ That may be more than what others thought, but it was still not enough. I’m not really sure what I used to think, but it was certainly not that they had real, deep thoughts. After reading Out of My Mind, I now know that on the outside they may not be able to do the same things as me: walk, talk, even sit up or go to the bathroom; but they have real thoughts and are human beings on the inside, just like me.
I think that I am more like Rose, Mrs. V, and Catherine than Claire and Molly. Out Of My Mind made me proud to NOT be like Claire and Molly. It helped me realize how important it is that I’m not like Claire and Molly because what they say is untrue and makes others feel bad. Out of My Mind also made me realize how important it is that I’m not like them. Rose, Mrs. V, and Catherine help Melody learn to do new things and help her do the things she can’t. They also help Melody feel better about herself and show others that Melody is intelligent and has feelings. They made me want to be like them, to make a difference in others’ lives. So now I try even more to look at things from other people’s point of view (even people without disabilities) and help them if they need it.
An example of this is when my family goes over to this boy’s house after school. He’s a few years older than me and he has some sort of disability, but I’m not sure what it is. We’ve only gone there a few times, and we haven’t gone in a while. When we go, we socialize with him. We do various things, depending on what he is in the mood for. Sometimes we do video games, or play with his dogs, or do board games. We do it to help him socialize and learn social skills. Another example is with kids in my grade. There are a few kids who aren’t treated nicely in my grade. They are ignored and made fun of by other kids. Some of them may have disabilities, I’m not sure. But ever since reading Out of My Mind, I have tried to include them, stand up for them, and talk to them.
Out of My Mind also made me realize how lucky I am to have a correctly functioning body. I guess I just always took it for granted. I can’t even fully imagine what it would be like to have a disability, but I think I would go crazy! Reading about Melody and her classmates in room H-5 made me appreciate the fact that I can walk, talk, eat, even take tests and type this letter! The part where Melody was trying to tell her dad that she wanted a Big Mac and a vanilla shake but he couldn’t understand her was a turning point for me. I felt so sad and frustrated for Melody as I thought what that would be like. I wanted to jump into the book and scream “She wants McDonalds!” or lend Melody my mouth. That’s when I fully comprehended the fact that nothing is wrong with me. I don’t even have any minor issues like asthma or allergies, much less a debilitating disability like cerebral palsy.
So thank you for writing Out of My Mind. I think I can speak for lots of others, adults and children alike, when I say that Out of My Mind was a life changer as well as a fantastic book that I could hardly put down.