Gifted Characters: You are what you read!
Have you ever read a book that you so completely identified with the character that you could actually picture yourself as him/her? Ever feel like you could imagine exactly the way they felt or knew why they behaved as they did? It is important that our gifted kids have characters that they can identify with. Characters who know how they feel. Hoagies Gifted Page has some great examples of books that have main characters that are gifted or twice-exceptional. Here are a few of our favorites that weren't on the list.
Percy Jackson Series
Book description from Booklist:
Gr. 6-9. The escapades of the Greek gods and heroes get a fresh spin in the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, about a contemporary 12-year-old New Yorker who learns he's a demigod. Perseus, aka Percy Jackson, thinks he has big problems. His father left before he was born, he's been kicked out of six schools in six years, he's dyslexic, and he has ADHD. What a surprise when he finds out that that's only the tip of the iceberg: he vaporizes his pre-algebra teacher, learns his best friend is a satyr and is almost killed by a minotaur before his mother manages to get him to the safety of Camp Half-Blood--where he discovers that Poseidon is his father. But that's a problem, too. Poseidon has been accused of stealing Zeus' lightning bolt, and unless Percy can return the bolt, humankind is doomed. Riordan's fast-paced adventure is fresh, dangerous, and funny. Percy is an appealing, but reluctant hero, the modernized gods are hilarious, and the parallels to Harry Potter are frequent and obvious. Because Riordan is faithful to the original myths, librarians should be prepared for a rush of readers wanting the classic stories.
Why we love it:
The author, Rick Riordan, is a teacher who has had experience teaching children who have learning differences. It became real to him when his son was being tested for ADHD and Dyslexia. He wrote this series in honor of his son's gifts and all those whose potential is sometimes hidden behind learning disabilities. We also love it because kids become immersed in mythology and tend to read everything they can get their hands on regarding these ancient stories.
Harry Potter Series
Book description from Booklist
Gr. 4-7. Orphaned in infancy, Harry Potter is raised by reluctant parents, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, an odious couple who would be right at home in a Roald Dahl novel. Things go from awful to hideous for Harry until, with the approach of his eleventh birthday, mysterious letters begin arriving addressed to him! His aunt and uncle manage to intercept these until a giant named Hagrid delivers one in person, and to his astonishment, Harry learns that he is a wizard and has been accepted (without even applying) as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There's even more startling news: it turns out that his parents were killed by an evil wizard so powerful that everyone is afraid to so much as utter his name, Voldemort. Somehow, though, Harry survived Voldemort's attempt to kill him, too, though it has left him with a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead and enormous celebrity in the world of magic because Voldemort vanished following his failure. But is he gone for good? What is hidden on the third floor of Hogwarts Castle? And who is the Man with Two Faces? Rowling's first novel, which has won numerous prizes in England, is a brilliantly imagined and beautifully written fantasy that incorporates elements of traditional British school stories without once violating the magical underpinnings of the plot. In fact, Rowling's wonderful ability to put a fantastic spin on sports, student rivalry, and eccentric faculty contribute to the humor, charm, and, well, delight of her utterly captivating story.
Why we love it:
Harry wasn't understood by his family and was always depressed until he found out that he was indeed special and had gifts that no one else had. He then had the opportunity to attend a school that valued his gifts and he could live up to his potential. You can also see Harry develop his powers through hard work. Talent development isn't always easy.
Review from Publisher's Weekly
Grade 4-6 Matilda is an extraordinarily gifted four-year-old whose parents are crass, dishonest used-car dealer, and a self-centered, blowsy bingo addict regard her as "nothing more than a scab." Life with her beastly parents is bearable only because Matilda teaches herself to read, finds the public library, and discovers literature. Also, Matilda loves using her lively intelligence to perpetrate daring acts of revenge on her father. This pastime she further develops when she enrolls in Crunchem Hall Primary School, whose headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is "a fierce tyrannical monster . . . ." Adults may cringe at Dahl's excesses in describing the cruel Miss Trunchbull, as well as his reliance on overextended characterization at the expense of plot development. Children, however, with their keenly developed sense of justice, will relish the absolutes of stupidity, greed, evil, and might versus intelligence, courage, and goodness. They also will sail happily through the contrived, implausible ending. Dahl's phenomenal popularity among children speaks for his breathless storytelling charms; his fans won't be disappointed by Matilda. Blake's droll pen-and-ink sketches extend the exaggerated humor.
Why we love it:
How can anyone not love Dahl! His descriptions are vivid and allow the reader to immerse themselves in Matilda's life. Beyond that, we love that Matilda loves to read and has a teacher that she adores and helps her see her talents for what they are.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Book description from Amazon:
"Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?"
When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end, just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.
As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?
Welcome to the Mysterious Benedict Society.
Why we love it:
This series is full of twists and turns and will keep the kids engaged! The characters in this story have to think out of the box to solve the mystery. This book encourages the reader to do the same and stretch their imagination.
The Alchemist- The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Description from Publisher's Weekly
Grades 6 and up. Twin 15-year-old siblings Sophie and Josh Newman take summer jobs in San Francisco across the street from one another: she at a coffee shop, he at a bookstore owned by Nick and Perry Fleming. In the very first chapter, armed goons garbed in black with "dead-looking skin and... marble eyes" (actually Golems) storm the bookshop, take Perry hostage, and swipe a rare Book (but not before Josh snatches its two most important pages). The stolen volume is the Codex, an ancient text of magical wisdom. Nick Fleming is really Nicholas Flamel, the 14th-century alchemist who could turn base metal into gold and make a potion that ensures immortality. Sophie and Josh learn that they are mentioned in the Codex's prophecies: "The two that are one will come either to save or to destroy the world." Mayhem ensues, as Irish author Scott draws on a wide knowledge of world mythology to stage a battle between the Dark Elders and their hired gun—Dr. John Dee—against the forces of good, led by Flamel and the twins (Sophie's powers are "awakened" by the goddess Hekate, who'd been living in an elaborate treehouse north of San Francisco). Not only do they need the Codex back to stop Dee and company, but the immortality potion must be brewed afresh every month. Time is running out, literally, for the Flamels. Proceeding at a breakneck pace, and populated by the likes of werewolves and vampires, the novel ends on a precipice, presumably to be picked up in volume two.
Why we love it:
Like the other series that we have reviewed, this story follows the same formula: kids with hidden talents that will go on to save the world. It also introduces kids to mythology and historical characters that they can then delve more into.
Share with us what books your kids love to read. We are always looking for something great to read!