"You think I want to live like I'm somebody's throwaway?"
July 5, 2014 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Walter Dean Myers, a best-selling and deeply respected children's author and tireless champion of literacy and education, died on July 1, 2014, following a brief illness. He was 76 years old.

From Myer's official website:

In a career spanning over 45 years, Walter Dean Myers wrote more than 100 books for children of all ages. His impressive body of work includes two Newbery Honor Books, three National Book Award Finalists, and six Coretta Scott King Award/Honor-winning books. He was the winner of the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults.

In 2012-13, he served as National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, a position created in part by the Library of Congress.

NYT Obituary

A list of his works (via NYT)

Amazon page

His gritty and realistic novels for teens include Fallen Angels (1988) about the Vietnam War (and is one of the books most frequently challenged in the U.S. because of its adult language and its realistic depiction of the war), Sunrise Over Fallujah (2008) about the Iraq war and Monster (1998) about a 16-year-old boy charged with murder. His 'books were usually narrated by teenagers trying to make right choices when the wrong ones were so much easier. There was the 17-year-old hiding from the police in Dope Sick, or the boarding school student in The Beast who learns his girlfriend is hooked on drugs. He was careful not to make judgments, and in the crime story Monster left doubt over whether the narrator was really guilty.

Myers was a lifelong proponent of diversity in children’s literature, and just a few months ago wrote "Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?":

"I’ve reached an age at which I find myself not only examining and weighing my life’s work, but thinking about how I will pass the baton so that those things I find important will continue. In 1969, when I first entered the world of writing children’s literature, the field was nearly empty. Children of color were not represented, nor were children from the lower economic classes. Today, when about 40 percent of public school students nationwide are black and Latino, the disparity of representation is even more egregious. In the middle of the night I ask myself if anyone really cares."

Myers' novel "On a Clear Day" is scheduled to come out in September.
posted by magstheaxe (17 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

posted by allthinky at 6:59 PM on July 5, 2014

. He wrote with such accessible candor, Thanks for the news & the constellation of information.
posted by childofTethys at 7:07 PM on July 5, 2014

posted by tuesdayschild at 7:27 PM on July 5, 2014


He was a good one and will be deeply missed.
posted by teleri025 at 7:45 PM on July 5, 2014

I thought I paid pretty close attention to books, including YA stuff, but his name is new to me. I will make an effort to seek him out.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:49 PM on July 5, 2014

Oh no no no no no. This can't be. One thing I could always interest my non-readers in was your books - thank you so much for so many great ones! RIP, WDM.
posted by Lynsey at 8:29 PM on July 5, 2014

posted by mai at 8:40 PM on July 5, 2014


I swear I read some of his books when I was a kid (I read everything), but the only one I can remember is his autobiography "Bad Boy" which is AMAZING.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:26 PM on July 5, 2014

I have only read "Fallen Angels," but I was immediately impressed with how good a job he did in conveying a grim, unpleasant experience of combat in Vietnam while still keeping the book firmly YA-oriented. It held up very well.

Myers's books are all over the school libraries in the Seattle area, and they get a lot of use. It's not just a matter of awards and stuff--his books really get read.

posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:36 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

RIP and thanks.
posted by BibiRose at 6:38 AM on July 6, 2014

posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:02 AM on July 6, 2014

posted by gudrun at 9:03 AM on July 6, 2014

posted by Halloween Jack at 1:29 PM on July 6, 2014

posted by Michele in California at 2:03 PM on July 6, 2014

posted by BlueHorse at 2:19 PM on July 6, 2014

His books are so fantastic. What a loss to the writing world.

posted by epj at 5:01 PM on July 6, 2014

posted by pointystick at 8:22 AM on July 8, 2014

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