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Our kids put the "special" in special needs each day. Have you read the novel Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper (1997 Teacher of the Year)? Watch Sharon Draper speak about her book. How can we be more like Mrs. V?
How do you think Melody's physical limitations affect her outlook on life? The way others see her?
Kids with disabilities are just like their peers. They want to be accepted, to have friends, to be included in the social life of the school. Melody understands the pain of being ignored and overlooked, and I've given her a voice to show her humanity. She represents all those young people, who have feelings as well as dreams. I wanted to give those kids, who are often treated as if they are invisible, a chance to be heard, to be seen as the individuals they are, not the machines they ride in, or the disability that defines them.
What do you want readers to remember about kids like Melody?
Melody is a tribute to all the parents of disabled kids who struggle, to all those children who are misunderstood, to all those caregivers who help every step of the way. It's also written for people who look away, who pretend they don't see, or who don't know what to say when they encounter someone who faces life with obvious differences. Say hello!
Why is the character of Mrs. V important to the novel?
Everyone needs a mentor, a life coach, someone to champion them on to success. Mrs. V fills that role in the novel. Sometimes it's hard for parents to give their children everything that is needed in life. Mrs. V is that person who goes above and beyond what is required of her because she sees potential in Melody, and because she loves her. We all could use a Mrs. V in our lives.