Getting into someone else’s head

A week ago I wrote about some of my favorite children’s books and I focused on picture books and early readers.  This time I thought I’d write about some of my favorite juvenile fiction, with an emphasis on getting into another’s head. 

Realistic Fiction

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos is about a boy with ADHD who has a hard time controlling his impulsivity.  It’s one of those books that helps you get an idea what it feels like from the inside to have this disability.  The cover makes it look like a comedy, but it’s really a fairly serious book.



Animal story

This is an older book, but Ribsy by Beverly Cleary is a great dog story.  It never would have occurred to me how a dog would think, but Beverly obviously gave it some thought.  Ribsy gets separated from his owner, and in a trip similar to The Incredible Journey, he wends his way toward home.  A lot of the story is based on his sense of smell, which I guess it would be for a dog! 

Realistic fiction

Another of my favorites by Beverly Cleary is Ramona the Pest.  Here, Beverly gets into the head of a 5-year old girl.  (How does she do that?)  I had to laugh at how literal Ramona’s mind was.  On her first day in Kindergarten, the teacher told her to “sit here for the present,” and she wouldn’t budge from that seat because she wanted to get her present.  

Survival/ Adventure

Jean Craighead George has been a favorite of mine since my 5th grade teacher read My Side of the Mountain to the class.  Julie of the Wolves took my respect to a whole new level.  Julie is an Inuit girl who runs away to find her father, and she nearly starves out in the wild.  She spends several days watching a wolf pack and learning to communicate with them, and then she works on getting accepted into the pack.

Realistic fiction
I just finished reading Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper.  This one gets into the mind of a very frustrated young girl with Cerebral Palsy.  She has never been able to speak, but she is very bright.  Few people realize how smart she is and she is constantly having to battle people’s low expectations of her.  Even when she gets a computer that will talk for her, people underestimate her and she gets teased for being different, but she rises above it all.
Here is an exercise for writers:  Think of someone or something that isn’t able to communicate in the normal human way, and write about how they think and feel, how they relate to the world around them, and how they understand others.  You can leave your piece in the comments below if it’s fairly short.

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