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!


Want to see your own stuff on TPT?  Click HERE and sign up!


Check out my review of Tears of A Tiger!

Winter Town- Stephen Edmond

Winter Town


Winter Town was one of the ARCs I received at NCTE11 in November.  Finally, while on winter break, I got a few free hours together to read it.  I have to say I enjoyed it.  The story has two main characters, a teen boy and a teen girl and follows their friendship as they navigate their own teenage problems.  What I thought was unique and interesting is that throughout the story are little comic strips or images that coincide with the story as illustrations, or are part of the story as examples of what the characters are writing.  It is not the type of story that I would use in my classroom to teach but I would feel comfortable recommending it to students and having it on my shelf.  There is some mention of drinking (and throwing up because of it) and casual mentions of sex but nothing is explicit nor does it come across as encouraged.  I think that this book is very timely and modern discussing texts, emails and even mentioning Glee.  That, actually, might be one of my concerns for the book that it will become dated quickly but only time will tell with that.

The Lowdown: 

Interest Level:  High School

This book was published on December 5th, and as of now I have not found any information regarding the reading level or awards that it has won.  If I come across any in the future I will update this post!

Love That Dog- Sharon Creech

Shop Indie Bookstores

This book was handed to me by the woman in charge of curriculum at my current school.  She told me that it was the newest book that they had ordered for bibliotherapy.  I was immediately intrigued because I have read other books by Creech before and was interested in what this one was like.  Once I found out it was written as a series of free verse poems I was a little more hesitant but decided to give it a try.  It took me 15-20 minutes to read straight through- which especially for the population of students I’m working with is a big plus!  The book is written as if a early teen boy wrote the poems and through them a small story line develops revolving around his feelings about poetry and about his pet dog.

One of the things I really really enjoyed about this book is that Creech included references to well known poetry such as The Red Wheelbarrow, some of Robert Frost’s poems, and poetry by Walter Dean Myers (one of my favorite YA Lit Authors).  The focus for the bibliotherapy aspect of the book is to encourage our students to use writing as an outlet, identify their feelings, and to discuss loss and grief.  In addition to that I think that we can really use this book to explore a poetry unit- focusing specifically on the poems mentioned int he book and then writing our own poetry as well.

When I hopefully do teach this book I will fill you in on how it goes, and perhaps find a way to post any activities that I create or adapt to go with it!

This book is definitely a 6-9th grade book.  I would recommend it for middle school primarily, though reluctant readers in 9th grade may appreciate its brevity.  Our class is primarily male and we are hoping that the male protagonist will make it appealing to them.

Christopher Award
Mitten Award (Michigan)
Claudia Lewis Poetry Award

Push- Sapphire

Push by Sapphire has received a lot of attention after being turned into the award-winning movie “Precious.”  I picked a copy of it up at a bookstore a few months ago and then forgot about it.  I’m glad I read it now though.  I had a feeling I would like the book but was not prepared for the way in which it was written. The novel is written from Precious’ point of view and is written as if she wrote it- and as a girl severely lacking in reading and writing skills this means that there are phonetic spellings, lots of swearing, and also slang.  I did find it easy to follow though and read it rather quickly.

I think this is a great book for English teachers to read because it reminds us of what deficiencies our students may be coming to us with that we might not think of.  i.e. the inability to read or write.  Due to the graphic descriptions of rape, incest, and abuse I would be hesitant to use this in my classroom.  I think it has a message that could be discussed, but having worked with students coming from this type of a background themselves I would be concerned about triggering flashbacks and or re-traumatizing them.  I would however recommend it to students in 11th and 12th grade while explaining to them that there are some rather graphic scenes, and letting them make their own mind up about whether they want to read it or not.

Overall I really enjoyed the book.


2010 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults- YALSA

So Not the Drama- Paula Chase

Shop Indie Bookstores


So Not the Drama is a light easy read that still talks about some serious issues.  Mina is entering high school along with 3 best friends (1 girl, 2 boys) and is very concerned with becoming one of the “popular” crowd.  Throughout the novel Mina deals with keeping up her friendships, forming new ones, popularity, race issues, and more.  I enjoyed reading about Mina and her friends, and thought that the issues presented were done in a light interesting way.  There are a few swear words but I don’t think that they’re over done or too explicit.  I’d say this book is appropriate for students in grades 8-10.  I do not see this book appealing to teenage boys or being used in a classroom, though there are discussion questions at the end of the book.  This is book 1 of a 5 book series, and I hope to read the rest within the next 2 months.  

Tears of A Tiger- Sharon Draper

Shop Indie Bookstores


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


Poll #6- What is your favorite genre?