Sharon M. Draper is a children’s book author to know. She’s an award-winning educator and author of books for kids and teens. She’s a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Literary Awards and in 2015 she received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime literary achievement from the American Library Association. So definitely a great author to add to your kids’ bookshelves! Here’s where to start, beginning with her books for older elementary school-aged kids and moving on up to books for kids 10-12 years old.
The Buried Bones Mystery (Clubhouse Mysteries #1)
Ziggy, Rashawn, Jerome, and Rico were planning on a summer full of shooting hoops, but when the neighborhood basketball court is vandalized, they find themselves at loose ends. Then Ziggy has a great idea. The boys can start a club, with all the things a club should have, like secret meetings, code words, treasures, and of course a clubhouse. Building the clubhouse in Ziggy’s backyard is lots of fun, but then when they dig a hole to hide their treasures, they find an old metal box full of human bones. The kids have stumbled upon an old mystery tied to the history of their neighborhood, and solving it gives their club a real and important purpose. It’s a great start to a series that elementary school kids will enjoy lots!
Happily, there are five more books in the series, with more fun adventures for the four boys! They are:
Lost in the Tunnel of Time, Shadows of Caesar’s Creek, The Space Camp Adventure, The Backyard Animal Show, and Stars and Sparks on Stage.
Little Sister is Not My Name (Sassy, #1)
Sharon Draper has another series good for elementary school kids, about a fourth-grade girl named Sassy. Sassy is sick to death of her family calling her “little sister.” Yes, she is little and the youngest in her family, but she is more than that! This isn’t a book with wild adventures; instead, it’s a series of small episodes in the life of a confident 4th grader who knows she can be someone special (someone more than just a little sister…). A prefect read, of course, for all who chafe at being the youngest, but pleasant fun even for big sisters, and anyone who likes a bit of sparkle in their life, and in their accessories, will love Sassy.
There are three more books about Sassy, in which things go realistically wrong before they go right again thanks to Sassy’s refusal to give up:
The Birthday Storm, The Silver Secret, and The Dazzle Disaster Party.
Out of My Mind
This is a powerful stand-alone novel for middle grade kids (9-12) about an extraordinary girl. Melody has a photographic memory, and loves learning. But Melody has cerebral palsy, and she cannot walk or talk. She’s never been able to say “I love you” to her parents, let alone show the world how smart she is. “By the time I was two, all my memories had words, and all my words had meanings. But only in my head,” Melody remembers. “I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old.” But with the help of new technology, in the form of a communication board, Melody is finally able to share her thoughts, at least to patient listeners. And finally, she can go to school. But instead of instantly making good friends, and learning more and more, Melody faces a painful journey. Her brave spirit and fierce intellect keep her going, and keep the reader cheering for her. This is a great one to offer the kid who loves Wonder.
Stella by Starlight
Here’s another great stand-alone for historical fiction fans! Stella and her little brother shouldn’t have been wandering outside that night in the woods behind their house in Bumblebee, North Carolina. And they shouldn’t have had to see the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross, but they do; it’s 1932, and the segregated south is a dangerous place for black families like Stella’s. Though fear is real, Stella’s papa and two other men decide to take a stand, and register to vote, and though the KKK retaliates, Stella’s community persists in their resistance. This big story is set within the smaller story of Stella’s everyday life full of family love, struggles at school, and a desire to learn to be as good a writer as she can be. The many small happinesses and happenings make the larger horror of fanatical racism no less horrible, but do leave the reader feeling warm and hopeful for Stella. It’s full of atmosphere and history and vivid sense of place, and Stella is a lovely relatable character. Give this one to the girl who dreams of being a writer; she will find Stella a kindred spirit.
What are your favorite books by Sharon M. Draper?