Author Walter Dean Myers, regarded as one of the most influential writers of juvenile fiction, was born Walter Milton Myers, August 12, 1937, in Martinsburg. After his mother’s death when he was three years old, he was raised by foster parents Florence and Herbert Dean.
Myers grew up in New York City’s Harlem district, where he hid his love for books and reading from other children. A high school teacher encouraged him to write, but family problems led him to drop out of school when he was 17 and join the army. After the army, he began to write and sell his stories. He graduated from Empire State College in 1984.
Myers has published more than 85 books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, many dealing with the concerns of minority children. He has received numerous literary awards which include Newbery Honor Book, 1989, for Scorpions. Harlem, which was illustrated by his son, Christopher, received the Caldecott Honor Book, 1998, Coretta Scott King Award, 1998, and Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Book, 1997. He received the Coretta Scott King Award for his books in 1980, 1985, 1989, 1991, and 1997. In 2000, Myers received the first ever Printz Award for Monster, which was also a finalist for the National Book Award.
In January 2012, Myers was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress. He will tour the country for two years, speaking at schools and libraries about reading and literacy. Myers lives in New Jersey.
Written by Sharon Diaz
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