Sharon M. Draper Author and Educator
Tears of a Tiger (Simon and Schuster, 1994) • Forged by Fire (Simon and Schuster, 1997) • Darkness Before Dawn (Simon and Schuster, 2001) • Romiette and Julio (Simon and Schuster, 1999) • Double Dutch (Simon and Schuster, 2002) • The Battle of Jericho (Simon and Schuster, 2003) • November Blues (Simon and Schuster, 2007) • Just Another Hero (Simon and Schuster, 2009) • Copper Sun (Simon and Schuster, 2006) • Out of my Mind (Simon and Schuster, 2010) • Fire from the Rock (Dutton, 2007) Introduction Sharon Draper has written over 20 books for children and young adults. Her first book Tears of a Tiger was published in1994. “I try to write powerful, meaningful stories for young people and show them I understand the difficulties of growing up and to let them know I care.”
Born in Cleveland, Ohio August 21 • Graduated from Pepperdine University/ degree in English • Lives in Cincinnati, Ohio • Taught High School English for twenty-five years • 1997 Ohio Teacher of the Year • Named National Teacher of the Year by Pres. Clinton in 1997 • Honored at the White House six times Biography Dr. Sharon M. Draper is a professional educator as well as an accomplished writer. She retired from teaching in 2005 to focus on her writing, however, she is a dedicated advocate and ambassador of teaching, education and literacy. “learner teacher wife mom grammy writer encourager inspirer"
Literary Awards • Coretta Scott King /John Steptoe New Talent Award for Tears of a Tiger (1995) • Coretta Scott King Author Award for Copper Sun (2007) and Forged by Fire(1998) • Coretta Scott King Author Honor for The Battle of Jericho (2004) and November Blues (2008)
Themes: Contemporary Novels • Drinking and Driving • Teen pregnancy • Violence • Teen Suicide . . . “Perhaps reading about the difficulties of others will act like an armor and protect my readers from the personal tragedies of their own lives.” • 28% of 15- to 20-year-old drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2005 had been drinking (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) • Three in ten teenage girls (31%) become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20 (National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy) • Nationwide, 18.5% of high school students had carried a weapon to school (2005 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance) • Nationwide, 8.4% of high school students had actually attempted suicide one or more times. (2005 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance).
Contemporary Novels “ I start with an idea, or a problem or a conflict, or even a situation that might be pertinent to the lives of young people, then the characters grow from that point.” • Story and characters are specific but themes are universal • Writing level and style is accessible to a general audience of teen readers • Narratives stimulate dialogue and open up discussion • Authentic look at consequences • Dramatic, entertaining • Didactic and preachy • Urban colloquialism
Jericho Trilogy This trilogy begins with the story of Jericho and his two best friends. They are junior’s at Frederick Douglass High School and have been asked to pledge the most popular and respected club in school. However, the club does not live up to its benevolent image when Jericho and his friends become victims of questionable initiation rituals.
Hazelwood Trilogy This trilogy begins with the story of a fatal car accident that kills Robert Washington the star player on Hazelwood High School’s basketball team. His best friend Andy, the driver of the car, blames himself for the accident and struggles with the pain and guilt over the loss of his friend.
Other Novels To fully understand Sharon Draper as a writer you must read read beyond her contemporary novels about teenager social problems “I want to make sure that young readers, who might think they don't want to read historical fiction, are drawn in from the beginning, so the novel is character-driven, with a fast-moving plot, shocking developments, and unforgettable characters.” • More literary • Lyrical and poetic tone • Insight and perspective • Characters are more dimensional and complex
Copper Sun Historical fiction about the horrors of the slave trade. Told through the eyes of Amari, a fifteen-year-old girl who is taken from her African village, survives the Middle Passage and sold into American slavery. “Copper Sun is unlike anything I've ever written. It is the book of my heart, the book of my spirit.”
Out of My Mind Sharon Drapers latest novel about Melody, a brilliant 5th grade girl trapped inside a body disabled by Cerebral Palsy. “Melody is a tribute to all the parents of disabled kids who struggle, to all those children who are misunderstood, to all those caregivers who help every step of the way.”
Ability to give voice to people who have no voice • Presents an authentic perspective • Flexibility to write for a specific audience • Passion and emotion • Poetic quality • Books are universal but African-American readers can especially identify with the characters • Great stories that inspire children to read Value as a Author “I try really hard to write material that young readers can "feel." I do my best not to talk down to teen readers, but to take their lives and thoughts quite seriously. Hundreds of readers write to me and tell me that somehow I've managed to capture what it's like to be young and vulnerable. They tell me I write the way it really is for them. That makes me feel good.”
Still Teaching “I never really stopped teaching--I just changed my area of expertise. Writing and teaching are mixed up together and can't be separated. I started writing as a result of my teaching, and now, my writing has become a teaching tool. I started writing for students, for the kids I knew who didn't like to read, who weren't inspired by books or literature.”
To learn more about Sharon Draper and her books check out her website at: http://sharondraper.com/