Gifted Ed teacher Allis Wade contacted me to read her new book Orientation: The School for Gifted Potentials. I was very intrigued! This unique sci-fi novel is specifically written for gifted children as a tool for learning about their social and emotional needs.
I’ll open with my highest praise: I wish someone had given me this book when I was in elementary school!
Orientation‘s setting immediately conjured up parallels to The Giver and Ender’s Game: all are set in a not-too-distant future, where a young, gifted boy suddenly finds himself in a strange situation because of his untapped potential.
In this story, Everett, despite struggling to appear average (and against his mother’s wishes), is identified as gifted and ends up living as a student at The School For Gifted Potentials. Orientation takes place during Everett’s orientation week at his new school. The plot is fast moving and gets increasingly intriguing as the story builds, but there is a goal beyond simply entertaining.
Unique Needs, Unique Purpose
The more important purpose of Orientation is to educate young, gifted kids about their unique emotional needs.
Since Everett is experiencing an orientation at a gifted school, readers will feel like they are attending class alongside him, learning about overexcitabilities, gifted characteristics, and communication skills.
Teachers clearly explain the children’s different needs and offer strategies for dealing with potential problems. Wade, who has a Masters in Gifted Education along with eleven years experience in a gifted classroom, makes these explanations concise, accurate, and appropriate for young readers.
Everett and his friends represent the wide range of children labeled as gifted: from quiet and emotionally sensitive to chatty and rambunctious. There is special attention paid to the importance of this variety and the strengths of each child, however no punches are pulled with regards to the potential problems associated with these characteristics.
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I could see this book being a great year-opener for a classroom, equipping students with an understanding of themselves as well as tools for analyzing future characters. I imagine that the true lessons in books featuring gifted characters will be more accessible to students after they read Orientation.
Families could definitely benefit from reading this book together as well, especially in a home with multiple gifted siblings.
Orientation sets the stage for what could be a very interesting series of books exploring the needs of gifted students. While the ending wraps up the main plot nicely, there are bigger mysteries left wide open for potential future episodes.
You can get an eBook copy of Orientation at Amazon.com.
Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this novel to review.