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Episode 9 – Sharon Draper


Almost from the first moment of hitting record on this podcast, one name kept coming up as a must-have gSharon Draperuest and that was Sharon M. Draper.

Sharon 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 Awards, and is a New York Times bestselling author, with Out of My Mind staying on the list for almost two years.

On this episode, we talk about the importance of teachers being empowered to teach outside of set curriculums and her desire to have her books read outside of the month of February.

I enjoyed the honesty of our conversation and hearing her hopefulness around the future of kids loving to read.

She also shared the story of how a journal from her family’s past inspired her book Stella by Starlight which won the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children in 2016.

Classroom Connection

Sharon talks about how her grandmother’s journal was the inspiration behind her book Stella by Starlight. Consider the writing that your family members have done. Do you have letters from the past? Recipes that have been passed down through generations? Birthday cards with special notes? Find one of these artifacts and imagine a story from it. As Sharon notes, her book had nothing to do directly with her grandmother’s journal, but the writing from the past inspired her writing today. 

I was excited to ask Sharon about how her book Copper Sun was selected by the US State Department and the International Reading Association as the United States novel for the international reading project called Reading Across Continents.

Students in the US and Ghana read the book and then visited each other’s countries. Talk about a perfect showcase for the power of literature.

If you are looking for an author to be part of your National African American Read-In activities, Sharon Draper is a perfect choice. Not familiar with her work and need more convincing? Listen to this episode and I think you’ll have everything you need.

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