Sharon Draper was born in Cleveland. She has two younger siblings. Growing up, she played the piano and loved to read. By eleven she had read nearly every children's book in her local library and was given a special library card in order to be allowed to check out adult books! Her writing career began in 1990 when, as a teacher, she was challenged by a ninth-grade student to "write something." She entered a short story entitled "One Small Torch" to a writing contest through Ebony magazine. In 2000, she retired from teaching in order to spend more time on her writing. Sharon lives in Cincinnati with her husband.