The book earned four literary awards in the past year, and to celebrate Autism Awareness Month, Driver will make presentations about her book to students at W.A. Wright Elementary School, as well as for the public April 5 at 4 p.m. at the Lebanon Public Library.
“No One Needed to Know” is aimed at readers 8-13 years old and focuses on an 11-year-old girl named Heidi who deals with the pressures and responsibilities of having an older autistic brother.
Heidi sees her brother bullied by children in the neighborhood and worries if her friends find out about him she will get bullied, too. She’s often impatient with her brother and blames him for when things go so badly for her at school.
But, Heidi also needs to learn more about her brother’s condition and ultimately teach others why he’s special and how to be kind to all people with special needs.
Books about teaching empathy and kindness to children are gaining in popularity. For that reason, “No One Needed to Know” won the 2017 Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Silver Medal for Best Preteen Fiction. The novel also won the 2017 Purple Dragonfly Children’s Book Award and the 2017 Human Relations Indie Book Gold Medal Award for Special Needs Awareness in Children’s Fiction.
Driver was inspired to write “No One Needed to Know” based on her own experiences as the younger sister of a brother with developmental disabilities.
“My brother wasn’t diagnosed as autistic, because we were kids in the late ’70s, early ’80s. Autism wasn’t a special education category yet,” she said.
When Driver became a teacher in special education, she and her mother put the puzzle pieces together and realized he was on the spectrum. As a child, she didn’t understand her brother’s odd behaviors.
She wanted to write a book about the challenging time in her life when she became aware her brother wasn’t like other children his age.
Driver said she believes the book could help start a conversation with children about bullying and offering kindness to people with different abilities.
During her presentation at Lebanon Public Library on April 5, she will talk about why she wrote the novel, give a quick overview of autism and hold a discussion about school bullying and why its especially hard on people with special needs. There will be free coloring sheets for the children who attend.
Driver will have copies of “No One Needed to Know” and some of her other books available for signing.
Driver is a familiar face in Lebanon. She performed in the Centerstage Theatre Co. productions of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Father of the Bride” last year, and she directed “Miracle on 34th Street,” which was performed at Winfree Bryant Middle School.
She has been a published author for more than 20 years, and she is a teacher at an inclusive child development center in Nashville. To learn more about Driver and her books, visit dgdriver.com.