Gifted Fictional Characters
Most gifted kids love to read, and from an early age, they may delight in escaping into a good book. A gifted child often takes particular pleasure in reading about kids who are also gifted in some way. While they might have trouble fitting in or simply feel “different” from classmates in real life, time spent with gifted protagonists may bring a measure of familiarity and belonging. You can call it bibliotherapy, or just good reading! I've complied a short list of books featuring gifted main characters.
For the early elementary level reader, try the Cam Jansen series. Cam is a young girl detective with a photographic memory, and there are many books about her escapades. Another young detective series features Encyclopedia Brown, who helps his Police chief father crack the toughest cases. These are classic stories that still present a good thinking challenge.
Middle elementary students can get to know Roald Dahl's Matilda, a precocious reader with supernatural powers. Or they might prefer to dig into Calvin and Hobbes comics, or Henry Winkler's Hank Zipzer series. Neither Calvin nor Hank fit the traditional gifted mold, but if you read between the lines, you'll see that they each possess a creativity, wit, and vocabulary way above average. Beverly Clearly is best known for her books about Ramona and Ralph S. Mouse, but she also has authored a sweet story about an imaginative girl who loves to read. Emily's Runaway Imagination is set in rural Oregon, when cars are a novelty. Emily's dream is to bring a library to her small town. Also for this level reader, I recommend Millicent Min:Girl Genius. Millicent is a profoundly gifted girl who is longing for a true friendship. The story has a very contemporary feel and is full of humor and heartache.
Upper elementary level readers will enjoy the hilarious adventures of a very talented homeschooling family in Surviving the Applewhites. The plot revolves around a teenage delinquent, a rambunctious billy goat, and a production of The Sound of Music. Cynthia Lord's terrific story, Rules, features a gifted artist who has an autistic brother. It's a very touching book, and quite realistic.
Finally for high school readers, I have these recommendations. The Gospel According to Larry is an interesting story about an enterprising and highly intelligent high school kid who is determined to make a difference. It's funny and poignant and inspiring too. Of Sound Mind relates the story of a hearing boy in a deaf family. Theo dreams of MIT, and escape from the pressure of acting as family interpreter. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a quirky but intriguing novel about Christopher, a boy with autism. Though he excels in math, Christopher is in a special needs classroom due to his severe social and emotional issues. This book is a real tear-jerker, though also strangely uplifting.
Happy reading to all!
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