Tears of A Tiger- Sharon Draper

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Written in 1994 Tears of A Tiger will still resonate with students now, 15 years later.  This story deals with the aftermath of a drunk driving accident that kills a high school student.  The relationships between friends, children and parents, teachers, and counselors are all discussed through transcripts of discussions, newspaper articles, diary entries, and letters.  This is the first book in the Hazelwood High trilogy, but each book stands completely on its own.  I have taught this book to 10th graders before and they ATE IT UP.  Many went on to read the next book in the series, Forged By Fire.  I highly recommend this book for use in a classroom (9-10th grade) and for individual students to read.  


Here is a link to Sharon Draper’s Teacher Resources for this book.  As a National Board Certified English teacher, she knows her stuff:  Sharon Draper’s Site



Winner–1995 American Library Association/Coretta Scott King Genesis Award for an outstanding new book
ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Outstanding book by

-The Children’s Book Council
-The New York City Library
-Bank Street College
-National Council for Social Studies

Best of the Best by YALSA as one of the top 100 books for Young Adults


The Battle of Jericho- Sharon M. Draper

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I am a fan of Sharon Draper.  I love that her books are urban, but have subtle and not so subtle morals.  When I’ve used some of her other novels in class the students really identify with the characters.  She does it again with this book.  The characters are all easy to identify with.  This book looks at the initiation rites of an elite group of boys.  Think a non-school sanctioned high school fraternity.  The novel deals with issues surrounding fitting in and bullying.  I think that both boys and girls could identify with this book.  It could be used in a classroom, but I think I’d use Tears of a Tiger or Forged by Fire (both by Draper) before I used this one.  All in all it was a good read, and took me about 2 hours to finish it.  

One of the things I love about Draper is that, as an English teacher herself she always has resources on her website for teachers to use in class with her books.  Here’s the link for her discussion questions and other resources for The Battle of Jericho.


Arizona Young Reader Book Award Nominee 
Charlotte Award Suggested Reading List (NY) 
Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book 
IRA Young Adults’ Choices 
Rosie Award Nominee (IN) 
South Carolina Book Award Nominee 
YARP Award Master List (SD) 
Young Hoosier Book Award Master List (IN)

Copper Sun- Sharon Draper

This novel is much different than Draper’s other works.  It is set during slavery and follows  one girl from her capture in Africa through her experiences with slavery here in America.  It is clear that Draper did a great deal of research to write this book.  The main character is 15 years old.  Due to discussion of rape I wouldn’t use it as a classroom read before 9th grade.  I think it could be used in conjunction with a history unit on slavery.


Draper has a TON of resources to use with this book in a classroom setting on her website.  I have not used this book so I cannot completely vouch for the, however Draper is an English teacher and so her resources seem to be very useful.


ALA Best Books for Young Adults Nominee
CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book
Coretta Scott King Award (ALA)
Florida Teens Read Master List
Georgia Peach Book Award Master List
Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Literature (Writing Conference, Inc.) (KS)
Heartland Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature Master List (KS)
IRA Notable Books for a Global Society
Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Nominee
School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
Thumbs Up! Award Master List (MI)
Virginia Readers’ Choice Award Master List
Volunteer State Book Award Master List (TN)

Monster- Walter Dean Meyers

This is a multi-genre piece written in the format of journals and a screenplay.  It deals with an under-privileged black boy on trial for murder. I think it could capture the attention of reluctant readers. Especially black males or students who have been incarcerated.  I would use this in an 8th or 9th grade classroom as well as recommend it for individual reading.  I really enjoyed this book.

Printz Award 2000

National Book Award Finalist

Coretta Scott King Award