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A Junior

Library Guild

Gold Standard Selection


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A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection


Thirteen-year-old Charity Wood may have mad math skills and a memory like a high-def IMAX film, but with a mouth that can’t speak and a body that jumps, claps, rocks and howls unpredictably, most people assume she's not capable of learning.

Yes, Charity is autistic. She is also funny, clever and eager to learn. So why do people treat her like she’s three? Or worse, like she’s a disease? Worst of all, like she’s not a real person?

When Charity’s parents enroll her a public junior high, she knows she’s primo bait for bullies. And one of these bullies is gunning to get her kicked out. With the support of her never-say-die parents and newfound friends, Charity will have to fight for her right to a real education.


A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, REAL is inspired by the true story of co-author Peyton Goddard. It is a groundbreaking story that celebrates the beauty of valuing and including all people.


Positive Images in the Media Award 




Outstanding Contribution to Juvenile Fiction 

by Children's Literature Council of Southern California

"This fabulous book has caused so many teachers to pause and reflect on their own practices."

Cassie Owens Moore, Teacher/Librarian/Media Specialist, Seneca Middle School

I think this book should be a must read for all middle school or high school age students."

–J. Hellard, School Librarian from California

"The book moves with pace and yet fills the reader not only with lessons about the politics of disability but also with the real understandings of a person with autism who types to communicate.  What a gift of a book!"  

–Douglas Biklen, Emeritus Dean, School of Education at Syracuse University

"This book has many important messages for anyone who wants to understand what more is possible for people with disabilities and what good support means."

-Connie & John O'Brien, authors and advocates for inclusion

"This book is one of the most amazing that I have read in a long while. It had me in tears so many times and my heart was breaking for this sweet, amazing girl. It is a miracle that this story can be told and provide all people with a new perspective for these amazing children who struggle to be heard. Thank you so much for publishing this book!!!"

–Mrs. Walker, Teacher at GPA Middle School in Enoch, UT

I Am Intelligent

At age 22, Peyton Goddard was a hopeless case to everyone but her parents. Robbed of speech and bodily control, she suffered abuse by people who dismissed her as autistic and severely mentally retarded. No one knew how much she understood until she got a chance to communicate electronically at age 22 and typed “I AM INTLGENT.”


In this gripping memoir, readers witness a mother obsessed with curing her child, and a daughter whose brilliant mind was trapped inside a body that wouldn't obey. After two wasted decades, Peyton's voice was set free. Without even a high school diploma, Peyton courageously applied to college. Not only did she endure, Peyton graduated valedictorian with a nearly 4.0 average.


Peyton advocates for acceptance and support of all children rather than seeing some as problems needing to be fixed. As Peyton says, “Understaters utter I’m no one. I’m broken, moldy bread, throwaway trash, great leper. Now I know I’m a voice of never-heard voices. Nothings need to be heard.”

"A heart-wrenching story of parental love for a child no one thought could succeed, this book will provide inspiration to any family experiencing its own trials with an autistic or severely disabled child."

–Library Journal

"The journey of this family is a teaching of extraordinary love and all the mountain ranges that it can move."

–Laura San Giacomo, actor and advocate

"a powerful, beautifully written tale of triumph . . ."

–Ariane Zurcher, Huffington Post

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# writer, author, middle-grade, kidlit, autismawareness, kindness, teachers, librarians, anti-bullying, childrens books, writing, inclusion #

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