A pioneer in children’s literature, Walter Dean Myers, died at 76 on Tuesday. He wrote over 100 books, winning nearly every award possible and was the 2012/13 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and influencing new generations of writers.
Richard Robinson, Chairman of Scholastic, publisher of Myers’ books, released a statement late yesterday:
“Walter Dean Myers changed the face of children’s literature by representing the diversity of the children of our nation in his award-winning books. He was a deeply authentic person and writer who urged other authors, editors and publishers not only to make sure every child could find him or herself in a book, but also to tell compelling and challenging stories that would inspire children to reach their full potential. My favorite quote from Walter is a clarion call to embrace the power of books to inform and transform our lives – he said, ‘Once I began to read, I began to exist.’ He will be missed by us all.”
He also notes,
I will never forget when Walter appeared at a convention to speak about his book, Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary, which was published by Scholastic. As we waited for the booksellers to arrive, more than 100 hotel staff crowded into the dining room, drawn to this tall, dignified author they deeply admired.
EarlyWord Kids Correspondent, Lisa Von Drasek, responds to the news:
I’ve been trying to write something but…
I am a reader not a writer.
I have read Walter Dean Myers.
I have experienced the responses of children and young adult readers as they hear, read and ponder his words and stories.
I have been privileged to share meals, as well as short and long chats with Christopher [Myers's son who illustrated many of his father's books] and Pops and hear them talk to audiences about their art and relationship.
You know I loved that man like a rabbit loves to run.
Goodbye, Mr. Walter Dean Myers. Goodbye.
Lisa recommends listening to Christopher and Walter Dean Myers’s StoryCorps reminiscence.
More information on Myers’ many books and accomplishments below:
Children’s Book Council press release
Associated Press obituary
Washington Post obituary