We are thrilled to welcome yet another author to our Multicultural Children’s Book Day Spotlight: Shining the Light on Inclusive Authors & Illustrators series! This week we are shining the spotlight on Sharon M. Draper, author of Stella by Starlight.
Sharon M. Draper 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. She was selected as Ohio’s Outstanding High School Language Arts Educator, Ohio Teacher of the Year, and was chosen as a NCNW Excellence in Teaching Award winner. She is a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award winner, and was the Duncanson Artist-in-Residence for the Taft Museum. She is a YWCA Career Woman of Achievement, and is the recipient of the Dean’s Award from Howard University School of Education, the Pepperdine University Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Marva Collins Education Excellence Award, and the Governor’s Educational Leadership Award.
Last year she was named Ohio Pioneer in Education by the Ohio State Department of Education, received the Beacon of Light Humanitarian award, as well as the Doctor of Laws Degree from Pepperdine University. In 2012 she received The 33rd annual Jeremiah Ludington Memorial Award by the Educational and Media Association. In 2011, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to the field of adolescent literature by The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English, as well as the 33rd Annual Jeremiah Luddington Award by the Educational Book and Media Association, also for lifetime achievement.
Question 1: What is your favorite letter of the alphabet and why?
I like the letter L. It’s the most fun to write in cursive, which older folks like myself still love to do. It’s curly and elegant and makes me happy. I used to write pages full of the letter L when I was in junior high because I liked a boy whose name was Larry. I’m still writing that letter because I married him! 🙂
Question 2: What do you want readers to know about your latest book?
Stella by Starlight is a story of love and community, of happiness and terror, of music and storytelling. It takes place in a little town called Bumblebee, North Carolina in 1932. Times are hard for everyone and eleven-year-old Stella seeks to find her place. This story is based on the life of my grandmother and my father, who both grew up in a town very much like Bumblebee. When she was eleven, my grandmother used to sneak out at night and secretly write in a journal. I was given that very old notebook many years ago. I used her story as inspiration for a tale that will make a reader both laugh and cry.
Question 3: As an author, how do you know when you have discovered an idea for your next book?
I think of a new story as a tea being put on a back burner, just simmering. Sometimes it may take years for that idea to come to full boil. When it becomes so hot that I really must write it down, I move it to the “front burner” of my brain and and the words come out so fast I can’t write them quickly enough. I’ve got one simmering now!
Question 4: What was the catalyst for creating your latest book?
Question 5: What’s next? What projects/books/events do you have in the works that you would like to share?
I’m working on the sequel to Panic. It’s been simmering for awhile, and recent events like those in Ferguson, MO, and New York and other places, have brought the story forward to the front of the stove in my brain. I want to say something—through characters and story and words—something that might make a difference. Only through literature and art and music can we really heal our souls. I’m going to do my part by adding a layer of discussion, of conversation, of peacefulness.
To learn more about Sharon or “Stella” visit her official website HERE.
More books by Sharon M. Draper:
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