Author Walter Dean Myers has been regarded as one of the most brilliant writers of juvenile fiction.
Born Walter Milton Myers on August 12, 1937, after his mother’s death when he was three, he was raised by foster parents Florence and Herbert Dean. Herbert Dean was an African-American man and his wife was a part-German and part-Native American woman who taught English at the local high school. Myers’ life as a child centered on the neighborhood and the church.
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 published more than 85 books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, many dealing with the concerns of minority children. He 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 numerous other awards.
In January 2012, Myers was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress. He toured the country for two years, speaking at schools and libraries about reading and literacy.
Myers died on July 1, 2014 in New Jersey.