Remembering Walter Dean Myers

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“I don’t want to approach reading from the viewpoint of that it’s a pleasant adjunct to your life. I want to approach it from the idea that you have to read or you’re going to suffer.” – Walter Dean Myers

The young adult community lost a legend.

Walter Dean Myers, 76, died on July 1st from pneumonia.

Born in West Virgina in 1937, Myers’ penned over 100 novels over his lifetime. His young adult novels often focused on stories of black youth struggling through troubles in school and at home. The most well-known of his young adult novels include Lockdown and Monster.

“I’ve always called you The Godfather, Mr. Myers. We never met, but I read your work and studied your interviews. RIP, sir,” tweeted author Matt de la Pena (The Living).

Myers won the first ever Printz award, along the Coretta Scott King Author awards five times. His books were named Newberry and Boston-Globe Horn Book honorees and nominated for the National Book Award three times, among other accolades. The Library of Congress named Myers the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in 2012, where he served a two-year tenure.

Earlier this year, Myers wrote an op-ed in the New York Times calling for more diversity in children’s literature.

“Thanks, Walter, for making the road wide enough for guys like me,” said author Chris Crutcher (Period 8) in a memorial post to Myers.

Three books will be published posthumously: On A Clear Day in September, Juba in April 2015, and a graphic novel adaptation of his novel Monster. You can learn more about Myers in his memoir Bad Boy, published in 2001.

To honor the memory of Walter Dean Myers, magazine Hunger Mountain put out a special call for submissions for anecdotes and personal essays about Myers. Visit their website to view the requirements and submit your piece.

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Nicole Brinkley

Nicole is the editor of YA Interrobang. She has short hair and loves dragons. The rest changes without notice. Follow her on Twitter at @nebrinkley or Tumblr at nebrinkley. Like her work? Leave her a tip.

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