Teaching Tools: Tears of a Tiger- Sharon Draper

Full disclosure- this is shameless self promotion.

That being said- I’ve created a packet of vocabulary activities, spelling/vocab tests, and questions to assist teachers with a 4 week long unit on Tears of A Tiger by Sharon Draper.  I’ve used all of the provided information in my own classroom and was met with success.  You can buy just the vocabulary packet, just the comprehension packet, or them all together as a bundle.


Vocabulary Packet $2.50 

Comprehension Packet $4.50

Vocabulary + Comprehension BUNDLE! $6.00  <— Your best value!


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Check out my review of Tears of A Tiger!

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes- Chris Crutcher

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Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes was a great read.  The story is told from the perspective of a teenage boy who is overweight.  He tells about his friendship with a girl named Sarah Byrnes, whose face is horribly disfigured due to burns suffered when she was three.  Along with issues of appearance and friendship,  the book also touches on religion, abuse, and trust.  There is mystery and action in the story that keeps you interested till the end.  I rooted for the characters the entire time.  I think this book is definitely classroom appropriate for high school.  It is an easy read, but is great for discussing theme and other elements of literature.  I would recommend this book to any student.  It will appeal to both both teen boys and girls.


ALA Best Book for YA
SLJ Best Book for YA
American Booksellers Pick of the List
California Young Reader Medalist
1995 Joan Fassler Memorial Book Award
ALA Best of the Best Books for YA
Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review
1994 South Dakota YARP Best Books
Nominee 1995-1996 Iowa Teen Award
Nominee 1995-1996 SC YA Book Award
Nominee 1996 Young Reader’s Choice Award
Nominee 1996-1997 ILF Rosie

Tangerine- Edward Bloor

  Tangerine kept me interested for the entire novel.  Paul, the seventh grade protagonist, is an engaging character with whom I was able to empathize.  One of the story lines that kept me the most intrigued throughout the book was the mystery of how Paul’s eye sight was harmed.  There is just enough mystery and intrigue in this book to keep you guessing.  There is also a focus on soccer, fitting in, and differences between social class in the book.  This book is very appropriate for middle school students and I think could be used for individual reading or whole class reading. 




ALA Top Ten Books for Young Adults

Horn Book Fanfare Book

An American Bookseller Pick of the List

NYPL “One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing”

A BCCB Blue Ribbon Book

Slam-Nick Hornby

This is Nick Hornby’s first true Young Adult novel.  The main character, Sam, is a 15 year old skater who becomes a teenage father.  The book follows the events leading up to the pregnency, through the pregnancy, and after the child is born.  In general it is realistic fiction but there are some fantastical moments throughout the story.  Due to Sam’s interest in skating there is a bit of inoformation about Tony Hawk sprinkled throughout the novel.

The book isn’t bad- however I do not see many teenage boys being interested in reading about pregnancy- even if they are teenage dads themselves.  There is a lot of skater jargon and the role of Tony Hawk might attract teens interested in the skating world to the book.  I think the book does a good job at discussing the issues surrounding sexual relationships between teenagers, safe sex, and the way a baby changes things.

This book could be used in a classroom but some might object to the frank discussion of sexuality.  I might suggest it to students that mention interests in any of the topics presented.  It is not a difficult read and feel it is appropriate for students in 9th-12th grade.

Whale Talk- Chris Crutcher

I just finished reading this book almost entirely straight through.  I found it interesting, engaging, and felt it touched on several key issues for teens today.  The protagonist is a 17 year old male, and is multi-racial.  The book deals with racism, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, the mentally handicapped, the physically handicapped, obesity, and the general need for acceptance that most teens can relate to.  I thought the characters were likeable and easy to relate to.  There are even great multi-syllable vocabulary words- thanks to one brainiac character.  The novel revolves around a make-shift swim team, so it may be of interest to swimmers, or other athletes- especially those who don’t play the “big sports” like football, basketball, and soccer or hockey.  I could see this being a book that is used as a classroom read for 9th-12th graders.  The language is easily understandable, but the themes are complex enough for any high school student to glean meaning from.


ALA Popular Paperbacks for YA 2005

ABC Children’s Booksellers Choices Award 2002

Washington State Book Award 2002

Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award 2002

Outstanding Sports Book Award/YA 2002

ALA Best Book for YA

TLA Tayshas List

New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

ALA Top 10 Best Books for YA

Book Sense 76 Pick