Friday, October 2, 2015


Image result for aquarium

Welcome back for the second week of the blogging portion of our CIS Parent Book Club!  We loved following the discussion last week and look forward to more good conversation this week.  The students are hanging on to every word of what is happening in Out of My Mind and are anxious to find out what happens with Melody and the Whiz Kids quiz team.  Again, we encourage you to find time to bring these topics up with your children.  Just make sure you don't give away any spoilers if their classes are behind you in the reading!  Like last week, choose one, a few, or all of the questions to address in the comment section.  Let's begin!


1.  In chapter 11, Melody starts inclusion classes.  We are also introduced to H-5's fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Shannon, the music teacher, Mrs. Lovelace, and to Molly and Claire, a couple of "mean girls".  How is Mrs. Shannon different from some of the teachers Melody and her H-5 classmates had in earlier grades?  What are your feelings about Molly and Claire?  How does Mrs. Lovelace respond to some of the bullying that is going on?  How is Melody responding to inclusion?  

2.   Melody is assigned a new aide, Catherine, in chapter 12.  Describe Catherine.  What are the positives and negatives of having Catherine by her side?  We also meet Miss Gordon and Mr. Dimming.  How does Melody feel about the two of them?

3.  Chapter 13 is an important chapter.  Melody desires a true friend in her life.   How do you define a true friend?  How important are friendships in our lives?  Is Rose going to be a true friend?  

4.  Rose shows off a new laptop in chapter 14.  What does Rose's laptop inspire in Melody?

5.  Melody is thrilled with her new Medi-Talker.  What must have it been like for her to be able to communicate more using this new device?  Melody's dad videotapes her, and she's thrilled.   Why do you think she's happy about him recording her "first words"?  What would it have been like for Melody's parents when they heard her say, "I love you"?

6.  In chapter 16, Claire is amazed that Melody "had thoughts in her head".  Do we discount certain people as having less of a voice?  What are the consequences of not valuing everyone's voice?

7.  What do we find out about Mr. Dimming in chapter 17?

8.  Melody wants Mrs. V to feel sorry for her in chapter 18.  It would have been easy for Mrs. V to respond by sympathizing with Melody, but Mrs. V responds in a different way.   What are your thoughts about her response?  Is she too harsh on Melody?  When is "tough love" appropriate?

9.  The conversation at the bottom of page 170 between Mrs. V and Melody's mom reveals a lot about each of their attitudes toward Melody.   Discuss what you think of their exchange.  Sharon Draper ends many chapters in a bittersweet way.  Just when something good happens to Melody, there is something sad that happens or that creeps into her mind.  Why do you think Sharon Draper chooses to write the story in this way?

10.  What are your hopes for Melody and the Whiz Kids quiz team?

Start the conversation!  Be sure to reply to others' comments, also, to keep the discussions going.  If there is something you wanted to discuss, but it wasn't in the questions, feel free to bring it up!  We're looking forward to reading your thoughts...


  1. 3. Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. I find it amazing that Melody is not only mentally bright, but also so socially bright as well. She wants to find a friend and as a reader you want this so badly for her too. You just wonder who that special kid will be in the class that will see past her wheelchair and her disabilities. She clearly sees the friendship that her family and Ms. V have. I hope one of these mean girls steps up.

    5. I was on an airplane when I read the chapters where Melody spoke to her parents the first time through the Medi-talker. I was bawling and the lady next to me on the plane said, "that must be some book." Words are so powerful, especially when they are spoken from our children. I love this chapter because the words are so positive. It is sad to see the chapters where the words that are spoken by some of the other kids and by Mr. D are so hurtful. I guess we can teach our children to build people up and not tear them down, words can certainly do both.

    1. I like how you said Melody is socially bright. That's so true! She so aware of others and is so hopeful that she's found a friend in Rose. Rose disappoints her (and us) at the aquarium, but we have to remember she is just a kid, too. It's so hard to hear Melody's awareness of how she's left out - she feels she can never truly fit in. Heartbreaking!

  2. Kirk Knollman (Kayley's dad)October 6, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    9. From a very early age, Melody has been very fortunate to have a principled "old soul" like Mrs. V in her life. I was inspired by how organized and dedicated she was in training Melody for the Whiz Kids test--this wasn't just a test of skill, it was a test of determination and focus. As for how Sharon Draper ends chapters, honestly it makes each chapter harder to start and thus easier to quit at the one just finished. Puzzling-- Kings Island survives because we not just want a challenge, but we want to remember the enjoyment of a successful conquest. Why can't she just let us enjoy happiness a little longer?

  3. Kirk Knollman (Kayley's dad)October 6, 2015 at 12:30 PM

    10. Is this our chance to enjoy the fruits of determination and talent? I hope the Whiz Kids prepare very well, are tested in the local round, and earn a trip to our nation's capital---just earning the trip is a huge achievement ! Open doors, make memories and use the experience as a springboard to build confidence and experience many more cool things to come in life !

  4. Kirk Knollman (Kayley's dad)October 6, 2015 at 1:24 PM

    5. It must have been hard for Melody to see her normal sister being filmed so much--envy but not in a mean way. Stick to your path, and every once in a while your chance will come too! The Medi-Talker was Melody's chance to have her own filming moments--and not in a payback or hurtful way. Hope for brighter things to come, as we see in the next few chapters when she aces the pre-test and real test......As for the "I Love You"-- in today's world at least I believe it's best to say it when you mean it, as opposed to "I'll tell them next time". Their may not be a next time....

    1. Yes, I think about how all siblings have tinges of jealousy toward each other - who's getting the most attention, who's succeeding, who's prettier/more athletic/more popular/smarter? I'm glad I am an only child! ;-)

  5. Kirk Knollman (Kayley's dad)October 6, 2015 at 3:25 PM

    7. "If Melody Brooks can win the first round, then my questions must not be difficult enough !" --another example of ending a chapter not on a high note. Why not let Melody enjoy her triumph? Not all memories of school are great; teachers who can inspire and really ignite the zest for learning are priceless--clearly that isn't Mr. Dimming.

  6. 7. Mr. Dimming makes me (and my students) so mad! He's constantly underestimating Melody and doesn't seem to be aware of how his words hurt her. Teachers' words are so powerful and can impact kids greatly. We always have to be careful about what we say and how we say it!