Sharon M. Draper is a professional educator as well as an accomplished writer. She has been honored as the National Teacher of the Year, is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Literary Award, and is a New York Times bestselling author. She was selected as Ohio's Outstanding High School Language Arts Educator, Ohio Teacher of the Year, and was chosen as a NCNW Excellence in Teaching Award winner.
Sharon Draper born in Cleveland, Ohio on August 21, 1948. In her autobiographical account, she talks about remembering being in her mother’s arms and being read to as a child. Her parents instilled a love of learning into their first born child. She was always a top performer and graduated from high school as a National Merit Scholar. By age 11 she had read almost all of the books in the children’s section of her public library and she began to feel limited in her reading. A mentor and librarian created a special library card for her that would allow her to take books out of the adult section with the librarian’s approval of her choices, so that she would not be taking out materials that were too mature for her. Usually only young adults 15 years and up were allowed to borrow from the adult section. “She partially credits her enormous appetite for books with training her to become an author” (Hinton 42). Draper really is an innovator in teaching. She remembers differentiating instruction before it was a norm and being reprimanded for it. She would help a student during lunch work to grow from his level. She would create engaging lessons, writing poems to music, acting out plays, and creating stories out of newspaper articles. In 1997, Draper was recognized as National Teacher of the Year and that changed her educational impact beyond her classroom. “Jared, a student, challenged Draper to submit a story to a writing contest sponsored by Ebony magazine” (Hinton 42). After observing a mother loudly reprimand her child at the grocery store, Draper decided she needed an outlet to express her concern and the possible home life of that child that haunted her after leaving the grocery store that day. Her story, “One Small Torch” became the 1990 Gertrude Johnson Williams Literary Contest winner, was published in Ebony magazine, and became the opening chapter of her second novel, Forged by Fire, the second book in her Hazelwood High trilogy after Tears of a Tiger.
One reviewer noted,“Critics have praised Draper’s realistic characterizations of adolescents, authentic ‘teenspeak,’ and suspenseful plots. Most of her books are set in schools and focus on what it is like to be a teenager during contemporary times” (Hinton 43).Characters are relatable and while they make mistakes, the reader can understand why they might make them and how they choose to deal with the consequences. Outside her historical fiction and tween series books, many of the topics in Draper’s books affect many teens... While the book topics may sound depressing and very serious, her characters are introspective while the stories are action packed. I feel it is the action that pulls teens in, but it is the deeper thinking of the characters that they learn from. In a review of Darkness Before Dawn, Odette Cornwell said, “Not only did Draper make Keisha real, but she also wove many prominent social issues faced by young adults today into the story line, and had her characters treat each issue with the dignity and respect that it deserves” (Cornwall 661).
She mentioned that the writing part is the easiest part for her. It is the editing and the copy editing that is tedious for her. Historical fiction takes her longer to write. Draper spent ten years writing Copper Sun ‘”intermittently, making changes after several trips to Africa, reading numerous historiographies and slave narratives” (Hinton 43). She also does research for her contemporary fiction as well. In preparation for Double Dutch, she interviewed Double Dutch teams, attended the national competitions of Double Dutch, and even jumped with a team. “For Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs: The Space Mission Mystery, she attended space camp in Alabama with eleven-year-olds, went on a mission, and did experiments” (Hinton 43).3. Since she is often traveling talking at schools as an author and educator, Draper likes to take weeks and devote them specifically to the writing. She needs to immerse herself into the character’s worlds and their lives for lengthy periods of time in order to be able to craft her narratives. A day here or there disrupts her flow and concentration. She usually begins writing between 4:30 and 7:30 am and writes the entire day, coming back the following day to revise and make minor edits (Hinton 43).
In Draper’s first book, Andy and 3 of his friends are in a fatal accident which kills their good friend, Rob. Andy is depressed because he was drinking and driving with his friends. The format of the book is different, as readers put the pieces of Andy’s fall into depression mostly through newspaper articles, conversations, assignments, and diary entries. Draper sent her manuscript to 25 publishers after she won the writing contest and got 24 rejection letters in a row, before being accepted by Simon & Schuster. Read excerpt. Draper does a great job setting up her trilogies. She will often use secondary characters from previous books in the series as the main characters in the follow-up novels, using an uncharacteristic series style that doesn’t follow one character or a group of characters equally through the whole series. Forged by Fire focuses on Gerald a character who we see in Tears of a Tiger that deals with abuse at home from his stepfather. Gerald has a couple of positive things in his life, like basketball and his half sister, Angel. He works hard to protect her from their father and has to get the courage to stand up to him. The first chapter of this book is the short story “One Small Torch”, Draper’s winning entry in the Gertrude Johnson Williams Literary Contest published in Ebony. In the last novel in the trilogy, Keisha, Andy’s ex-girlfriend from Tears of a Tiger wants to get over Andy and start dating again. She falls for the 23-year-old new track coach and the principal’s son. Her friends warn her about him, but he is romantic and sweet. Their relationship begins to spiral out of Keisha’s control. Meanwhile, Angel, Gerald’s younger sister, finds herself poorly coping with the home abuse and her self-image and turns to anorexia to ease her pain.
Jericho loves music, has a great family, and friends who care, but he has the opportunity to pledge the Warriors of Distinction with his friend Kofi and his cousin Josh. The book takes readers through peer pressure, high school hazing, and what some teens will do to fit in, get the best girls, and go to the best parties. Jericho and his friends are pushed to the edge as the hazing gets more and more extreme and they have to witness the only girl pledge singled out by Eddie, one of the club leaders. November, Josh’s former girlfriend finds out she is pregnant with his child. She has to deal with him being out of the picture and deciding what to do with her life and the baby. After the horrendous incidents in the first book, Jericho finds solace in the physical pain of football and stops playing his music. Both November and Jericho have to deal with life when it doesn’t go as planned.In the last book, the characters have come so far. The book focuses on Arielle’s perspective, a character who has been mostly despised by the rest of the characters in the other books. The reader learns about her life at home and sees into her heart. Kofi deals with a drug addiction and random thefts in the school start to occur. Life is threatened when Jericho, Kofi, November and some of the others are held hostage when a student brings an AK-47 to school.
1. Embed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1Vr1FujjWI&feature=related reading from Copper Sun 2:12-4:22Introspective characters that YA can relate to and understand even if the characters are from a different time and place. Even in this historical fiction, Draper builds a believable and exciting tale that keeps pages turning. As with her other novels, hope still appears in Amari’s life as she loses her family and gets sold as a slave. 2. Sylvia Patterson is excited to go to high school for all the normal teen reasons, but in 1957 in Little Rock, high school life is much more than that when Sylvia is asked by her teacher to be one of the first black students to attend Central. Sylvia is torn by the decision but the town seems to explode as racial tension builds.
Eleven-year-old Melody is suffering inside her body. She has cerebral palsy and it has affected her ability to communicate and walk. While she limited on the outside, inside she has so much to say and can’t share it. Draper walks the reader through a life that may be very different than his or her own, to remind us that even if words aren’t spoken, thoughts and feelings are always present. Delia loves Double Dutch and has the chance to go to the World Double Dutch Championship. However, she’s worried about the mandatory state exam because she can’t read. The test scores could jeopardize her place on the team and her future. Her crush Randy is also hiding the fact that his father has been missing for weeks in fear that he’ll be placed in a foster home. The theme of “double” is carried out in the book as two twisters hit Delia’s town as well as the Tolliver twins, two school bullies. In this modern take on Shakespeare’s most famous love story, Romiette and Julio are from very different backgrounds but meet each other in an International Chat room and find they go to the same school. Love seems to blossom for the two but is threatened by the Devildogs, a local gang that is not okay with Romiette and Julio’s interracial relationship. Lives are threatened as the two struggle to stay together and stay away from the Devildogs. In a reworking of the book The Pact for younger audiences, Draper tells individual childhood stories of The Three Doctors, George Jenkins, Sampson Davis, and Rameck Hunt and their pact to move beyond their tough lives in Newark, NJ and their determination to all go to college and become doctors.
1. (Grades 2-4) Nine-year-old Sassy has a great family and great friends. But sometimes being nine can be tough. As the youngest in her family everyone calls her “Little Sister” and she hates it. However, Sassy is full of imagination and carries around her Sassy Sack, the envy of all her friends at school. In the series, Sassy uses her creative style and innovation to help her trapped family out of an elevator, find safety from a hurricane for her family and some endangered animals, save the school production, and avoid disaster at her cooking party where she learns the recipe of friendship. 2. (Grades 3-4-Reluctant Readers) Ziggy, Rico, Rashawn, and Jerome form a club called the Black Dinosaurs and go on awesome adventures, solving mysteries, finding a secret passage, avoiding spirits, attending space camp, rescuing an animal, and sharing their magic in the school talent show.
Sharon Draper Author Study
Sharon M. Draper Presentation by Maricor Chang LIS 722 Summer 2011NOTICE: This presentation contains copyrighted materials used underthe Multimedia Guidelines and Fair Use exemptions of U.S. copyrightlaw. Further use is prohibited.
Draper’s InfluencesHer parents encouraged andexpected her to do well in schoolDraper was an avid library patronAt Pepperdine University, she majoredin English and read widelySharon planned to be a teacher butdid not expect to be a writerHer students challenged andencouraged her to write
Draper’s Writing• Creates a YA accessible context to read and explore mature topics in a respectful manner• Develops realistic imperfect characters• Writes about topics that some teens face, such as child abuse, depression, suicide, teen pregnancy, and eating disorders.
Writing Process• Draper usually take a few months to write a novel’s first draft• She delves into research for a project• When she does write, she has to devote at least a week non-stop to writing
Hazelwood High Trilogy Tears of a Tiger Forged by Fire Darkness before Dawn•1995 Coretta Scott King •1998 Coretta Scott King •ALA BEST Book AwardAward Award •ALA Top Ten Quick•ALA Best Book for Young •1998--ALA BEST Book PickAdults for 1995 Award •Childrens Choice•Best Book 1995 --Childrens •1998--Parents Choice Award-- InternationalBook Council Award Reading Association•Best Books for the Teen •1998--ALA Quik Piks •IRA Young AdultAge--1995 --New York City Award Choice--2003Library •Best Books for the Teen•Best Book--1995 National Age--1998--New York CityCouncil for Social Studies Library•Best of the Best by VOYAand ALA
The Jericho TrilogyThe Battle of Jericho November Blues Just Another Hero•2004 Coretta Scott King •2008 Coretta Scott King •Released in 2009Honor Book Literature award •Conclusion to the•New York Public Librarys •2008 New York Public winning trilogyBook for the Teen Age Library Best Books for the•2005 Young Adult Teen Age.Choice Books -- •2008 Young Adult ChoiceInternational Reading Books --InternationalAssociation Reading Association
Historical Fiction Copper Sun•Coretta Scott King Literature award Fire From the Rock•Top Ten Historical Fiction Books for Youth by Booklist •Notable Social Studies•Nominated for the 2007 NAACP Image Award for Trade Book for YoungLiterature People for 2008 by the•IRA Notable Book for a Global Society NCSS-CBC Notable Social•Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal Studies•Listed on the New York Times Bestseller List •Committee 2008 New•Chosen by the National Underground Railroad York Public Library BestFreedom center as a major museum exhibit Books for the Teen Age•Chosen by the International Reading Association,the United States State Department, and ReadingAcross Continents as the novel to be read bystudents from the US and Africa.
Works CitedA. S., G. "This Months Page-Turner." Ebony 65.8 (2010): 46. MAS Ultra - School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011.Cornwall, Odette. "Creating Spaces to Raise Social Issues (Book)." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 45.7 (2002): 661. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011.Draper, Sharon M. "Bandaids and Five Dollar Bills." Scholastic Action. 8. Scholastic Inc., 1999. MAS Ultra - School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 2 June 2011.Draper, Sharon M. "A Call for Master Teachers." Essence (Essence) 30.9 (2000): 138. MAS Ultra - School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011."EBONY Literary Contest Winner Tackles Tough Issues Facing Youth In Novels." Jet 104.19 (2003): 64. MAS Ultra - School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011.Hinton, KaaVonia. "Author Profile: Sharon M. Draper." Library Media Connection 27.2 (2008): 42-43. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011.Holsendolph, Ernest. "New Test, Same Problems." Black Issues in Higher Education 22.8 (2005): 26-29. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011.Kline, Lloyd W. "Reading for Lovers of Reading and Teaching." Reading Today 17.5 (2000): 20. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011.Knight, Elaine E. "The Space Mission Adventure." School Library Journal 53.1 (2007): 92. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011."The New Crisis Great Kids Books." New Crisis 106.2 (1999): 40. MAS Ultra - School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011."One Small Torch." Ebony 46.2 (1990): 18C. MAS Ultra - School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011.“‘Reading Across Continents’ on International Literacy Day." Reading Today 26.1 (2008): 45. Professional Development Collection. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011."Remembering Little Rock." Diverse: Issues in Higher Education 24.15 (2007): 7. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011.SharonDraper.com. Sharon M. Draper. Web. 30 May 2011. <http://sharondraper.com>"We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success." Publishers Weekly 252.14 (2005): 61. MAS Ultra - School Edition. EBSCO. Web. 4 June 2011.