"In Memory to Award winning Author Walter Dean Myers"
Aug. 12, 1937 - July 1, 2014
Myers was a three-time National Bok Award nominee, received the Coretta Scott King Book Award for African-American fiction five times and from 2012 to 2013 served as national ambassador for young people’s literature, a position created in part by the Library of Congress.
"I didn't know I was going to be a writer," Myers said in an interview with Scholastic Books after his book Scorpions was published in 1988.
"In fact, I didn't know that there was such a job as an author,” Myers said. “No one really encouraged me to write, it was just something I loved to do."
Myers, who wrote more than 100 books, credited his foster father for instilling him a work ethic within him.
"What I really have is the discipline to work all the time," he said in an interview with the Sacramento Bee. "I finish one project, and I'm ready to immediately start the next."
Late in his career, he took up writing about America's wars, in books such as "Sunrise over Fallujah" After watching his father, brother and son fight in WWII, Vietnam, and Iraq, respectively, Myers stated that he wanted to reach “young people who would be fighting this war, and who would, in the future, be making the hard decisions about our country engaging in wars, to be conscious of what war is really about”.
As he got older and the world around him was changing, especially after the election of the first African American president, Barack Obama, it bothered him how scarcely characters of color were depicted in literature for children and teens. In 2013, according to one study, only 93 of the 3,200 children's books published in the U.S. were about black people. Myers believed that the invisibility of people of color in literature discouraged kids from reading.
"When do you plan to stop writing books?" his young readers once asked. “I plan to retire," Myers answered, "seven minutes before I die." Myers was said to write 7 – 10 pages at least 5 days a week for the last thirty years. This clearly explains how he has over 100 books to his credited.
Although he has passed on, Myers’ legacy will live forever. He’s someone who transcended literature and became important to a culture, and he is a shining example of what writers should strive to be.
"I think it's difficult for young people to acknowledge being smart, to knowledge being a reader. I see kids who are embarrassed to read books. They're embarrassed to have people see them doing it."
Walter Dean Myers
Walter Dean Myer’s complete bibliography