Sharon Draper is being recognized for writing more than 30 books for children and teens. Before establishing her successful career as a writer, Draper taught for more than 25 years in Cincinnati public schools as a language-arts teacher sharing the beauty and power of words. She was selected as Ohio’s Outstanding High School Language Arts Educator, Ohio Teacher of the Year, and National Teacher of the Year in 1997.
The U.S. State Department and the International Reading Association selected Draper’s book “Copper Sun” for the 2009 Reading Across Continents program. This work of historical fiction follows 15-year-old Amari, forced on a slave ship bound for the Carolinas, as she struggles with life as a slave on a plantation. The Reading Across Continents program encourages students from Nigeria, Ghana and the U.S. to foster an interest in reading and culture.
Draper’s most awarded book, “Out of My Mind,” was published in 2010 and was at the top of the New York Times’ bestseller list for nine weeks. Fifth-grade student Melody struggles to overcome the physical limitations from Cerebral Palsy and communicate her insightful observations. From critics to parents and educators, Draper was applauded for her authentic story of love and perseverance.
“Out of My Mind” received the Josette Frank Award by the Children’s Book Committee of the Bank Street College of Education. This award for fiction honors a book of outstanding literary merit in which young people deal in a positive and realistic way with difficulties in their world and grow emotionally and morally. “Out of My Mind” also has been translated into more than 10 languages in selected to 32 state reading lists.
Once upon a time, there lived a young girl named Broomstick Annie who wore bright-colored ribbons in her hair.
The story of Anne V. Zarrow’s life reads much like a children’s fairy tale. From the day she was born in 1915 to a poor immigrant family in Ohio and nicknamed “Broomstick Annie,” to her marriage to her beloved husband, Henry, Anne gave of herself. Whether it was hosting a local charity dinner or giving the coat off her back, Anne did so with sincerity and style.
As one of Tulsa’s most prominent business leaders, Henry Zarrow found it difficult to deny his wife her every good deed, especially when it came to books and children. Together they established an endowment in the Tulsa Library Trust to fund The Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers’ Literature. The award allows the library to bring to Tulsa each year a famous children’s author. This celebration of reading and writing also gives children all over Tulsa County an opportunity to meet and talk with an author they’ve only read about in books.
And to make sure there are plenty of books to read, upon Anne’s death in 2000, the Zarrow family chose to remember her with the Anne V. Zarrow Library Books for Children’s Fund with a $125,000 challenge grant. Each year, this endowment pays for hundreds of new children’s books to put on the library shelves.
With all fairy tales, there are happy endings. You have only to look at the list of award winners for inspiration to see how the childhood dreams of just one girl named “Broomstick Annie” now introduces the minds of hundreds of young readers and writers to a world of possibilities, of imagination and creativity.
The Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers’ Literature was inaugurated in 1991 and is given annually by the Tulsa Library Trust. In 1992, it was permanently named in honor of Anne V. Zarrow. Its purpose is to give formal recognition, on behalf of the Tulsa County community, to nationally acclaimed authors who have made a significant contribution to the field of literature for children and young adults.