“Reading is not optional.”
Perhaps Walter Dean Myers writes for so well for today’s students because he has walked in their shoes. Myers was born in Martinsburg, WV in 1937 and was given away to live with a family for reasons unknown to him. Though his foster family loved and provided for him, he claims the streets and the church as his home. At the ripe old age of 17 he dropped out of school and joined the service. His passion? Basketball.
He became a writer through the inspiration of one of his teachers.
I actually had the honor of meeting Myers a few years ago at the McConnell Conference in Kentucky. I remember him saying that when he was developing a character, he would complete a McDonald’s job resume for that character. Quite often now when I’m reading a particular book, I’ll wonder how well a character or two would look on one of those applications. Would they have any previous experience or strong references? He’s kind of set a bar for me.
Myers is influencing young people all over the world with books from Where does the day go? (his first book) to The young landlords (they first book of his I read) to the multi award-winning Monster. He’s published fiction, nonfiction, poetry and fiction in screenplay form. In 2012 he will release (or sometimes re-release)
- The Cruisers Book 3: A star is born (Aug)
- The Cruisers Book 2: Checkmate (July; pbk)
- Harlem Summer (May; pbk)
- All the right stuff (Apr)
- Kick (Apr; pbk)
- The journals of Scott Pendleton Collins, A WWII Soldier (pbk)
- Hoops (Feb; pbk)
Last week, Mr. Myers became our country’s third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The Ambassador is chosen by a committee formed by two groups: the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and Every Child a Reader, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Children’s Book Council, a trade association for children’s book publishers. His or her purpose is to” raise national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education and the development and betterment of the lives of young people.”
As ambassador, Mr. Myers will appear at Children’s Book Week in New York in May and at the National Book Festival in Washington. He will receive a medal at the Library of Congress on Tuesday. One of the first things he expects to say is that reading is not a Victorian pastime.
He probably thinks reading is meant to entertain.
For more information on Walter Dean Myers, visit the Library of Congress.
I’m currently reading Antarctica by Walter Dean Myers
Male Monday is a meme begun by Ari @ Reading in Color.
6 thoughts on “Male Monday: Walter Dean Myers”
The McDonald’s job application idea for character development is genius, pure genius.
Walter Dean Myers is one of my favorite YA authors, I recommend his books every day to my students. I especially liked Monster and Sunrise Over Fallujah.
I love the variety of the info you gave in this post. There is so much to love about Walter Dean Myers: his background, his craft, his body of work, the work he continues to do to promote reading. You covered it all!
I love his platform for this year! Reading is not optional – so true. I read Monster awhile back and found it fascinating. Thanks for all of the great background information on him!
Wonderful to read the broad themes in his writing; he has given us so much to enjoy. Are you enjoying Antarctica?
I love that quote of his. I enjoy Myers’ writing. The more I read of his books, the more I appreciate how he writes in various genres and styles. The last book I read of his was Riot, which was written in screenplay form. He never ceases to amaze me.
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