Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers photo

Walter Dean Myers is a 2-Time Bestselling Author

Walter Dean Myers (August 12, 1937 to July 1, 2014) is the winner of the first [2010] Coretta Scott King Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

“I am a product of Harlem and of the values, color, toughness, and caring that I found there as a child. I learned my flat jump shot in the church basement and got my first kiss during recess at Bible school. I played the endless street games kids played in the pre-television days and paid enough attention to candy and junk food to dutifully alarm my mother.

From my foster parents, the Deans, I received the love that was ultimately to strengthen me, even when I had forgotten its source. It was my foster mother, a half Indian-half German woman, who taught me to read, though she herself was barely literate.

"I had a speech difficulty but didn’t view it as anything special. It wasn’t necessary for me to be much of a social creature once I discovered books. Books took me, not so much to foreign lands and fanciful adventures, but to a place within myself that I have been constantly exploring ever since.

The George Bruce Branch of the Public Library was my most treasured place. I couldn’t believe my luck in discovering that what I enjoyed most’reading’was free. And I was tough enough to carry the books home through the streets without too many incidents.

At sixteen it seemed a good idea to leave school, and so I did. On my seventeenth birthday I joined the army. After the army there were jobs-some good, some bad, few worth mentioning. Leaving school seemed less like a good idea.

Walter Dean Myers has written many highly acclaimed books for children and young adults, including Angel to Angel, Glorious Angels, Brown Angels, and the Newbery Honor book, Scorpions. He received the Coretta Scott King Award for Now is Your Time! The African-American Struggle for Freedom, and the 1994 Margaret E. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award given by the American Library Association. He lives in Jersey City, NJ.

Writing for me has been many things. It was a way to overcome the hindrance of speech problems as I tried to reach out to the world. It was a way of establishing my humanity in a world that often ignores the humanity of those in less favored positions. It was a way to make a few extra dollars when they were badly needed.

What I want to do with the writing keeps changing, too. Perhaps I just get clearer in what it is I am doing. I’m sure that after I’m dead someone will lay it all out nicely. I’d hate to see what kind of biography my cat, Askia, would write about me. Probably something like, "Walter Dean Myers had enormous feet, didn’t feed me on time, and often sat in my favorite chair." At any rate, what I think I’m doing now is rediscovering the innocence of children that I once took for granted. I cannot relive it or reclaim it, but I can expose it and celebrate it in the books I write. I really like people "I mean, I really like people" and children are some of the best people I know.

I’ve always felt it a little pretentious to write about yourself, but it’s not too bad if you don’t write too much.”

An ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults

New York Times Bestselling Author
3-Time National Book Award Finalist
Michael L. Printz Award
5 Coretta Scott King Awards
2 Newbery Honors
National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (2012-2013)
Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement
Children’s Literature Legacy Award

Walter Dean Myers: More Than an Outstanding Writer by Wade Hudson

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38 Books by Walter Dean Myers