Walter Dean Myers was one of the first people to write books for American children. He has written more than a hundred books, including short stories, novels, and non-fiction. Some of them have paintings by famous artists like Leo Carty, Gene Riarti, Martin and Alice Provensen, and others. Christopher, his youngest son, has drawn pictures for some of the later books. As a child, Myers was left without a family and then adopted. Even though he had loving foster parents, this made it hard for him to deal with life. He did a lot of bad things because he felt like he wasn’t good enough, and he soon started to stutter. This, however, got better with the help of a school teacher who was usually very strict. He also tried to escape by writing, which turned out to be his passion and his job. Before taking a few unsatisfying odd jobs, this very creative author gave us masterpieces like “Monster,” “Motown and Didi,” “Scorpions,” “Autobiography of My Dead Brother,” and even “Fallen Angels,” which caused a lot of controversies. He was chosen as the ambassador for “Young People’s Literature” by the “Library of Congress.” Even today, Myers is a role model for people who want to be brave enough to follow their dreams, just like he did.
Early years and childhood
Walter Milton was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, on August 12, 1937. He was the son of George Myers and his second wife, Mary. When he was two, his mother died while giving birth to his sister Imogene. George gave the boy to his first wife, Florence, and her husband, Herbert Dean, because he couldn’t take care of him.
Herbert was an African American who lived in Harlem. Florence, on the other hand, was half German and half Native American. Since Walter’s new family, the Deans, loved him, he soon came to think of them as his own parents. He even decided to take their last name.
The little boy’s foster parents took him to church often, and as he grew up, his faith in God grew stronger and stronger.
While he was a student at Stuyvesant High School in New York, he read the works of famous writers like Mark Twain, James Joyce, Charles Dickens, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. When his uncle was killed and the family was upset, this habit helped him feel better.
He was very smart, but for some reason, he did not do well in school. He had a problem with stuttering, so writing short stories and poetry helped him feel better. A teacher who taught him English saw that he was good at it and told him to keep doing it.
Soon, the young writer, who often got in trouble for fighting and talking with his classmates, quit school before he turned seventeen. Dean joined the U.S. Army in 1954, where he continued to write down his thoughts from time to time.
Walter Dean’s Career
After his time in the army was over, Walter went to work as a laborer for a building company. Even though he was in a frustrating situation, he thought about what his teacher had said and started writing more seriously. He started to write for a local newspaper and a few magazines.
During this time, a story by James Baldwin gave the aspiring writer some ideas. Baldwin wrote about how black people lived in cities, which made Dean want to write about his own life.
Myers’s first book, “The Life of a Harlem Man,” came out in 1968. However, it was “Where Does a Day Go?,” which he wrote the same year, that brought him into the public eye. The “Council on Interracial Books for Children Award” was given to this book because it wowed readers all over the country.
From then on, this talented author didn’t look back. During his career, he wrote many books, mostly for kids and teens. Walter made movies like “The Dancers,” “Fly, Jimmy, Fly!,” “Fast Sam, Cool Clyde, and Stuff,” “Victory for Jamie,” and “The Young Landlords” in the 1970s.
In the 1980s, this great author wrote a number of books, including “The Legend of Tarik,” “Won’t Know Till I Get There,” “Motown and Didi,” “Mr. Monkey and the Gotcha Bird,” “Crystal,” and “Fallen Angels.”
Myers never gave up on his dream. In the 1990s, he wrote many more exciting stories, such as “Scorpions,” “Now Is Your Time! The African-American Struggle for Freedom, The Darnell Rock Reporting, Shadow of the Red Moon, and Monster.
From 2000 to 2005, many more books came out, including “145th Street: Short Stories,” “Greatest: Muhammad Ali,” “Handbook for Boys: A Novel,” “Thanks & Giving: All Year Long,” “Shooter,” and “The Beast.”
This talented author wrote stories like “Street Love,” “What They Found: Love on 145th Street,” “Harlem Summer,” “Sunrise Over Fallujah,” “Riot,” “The Cruisers Checkmate,” and “Invasion” in the middle of the 2000s.
Works of note
Even though he has written a lot of well-known books, Walter Myers is best known for his novel “Monster.” This book was on the shortlist for the “National Book Award for Young People” in 1999. The following year, it won both the “Michael L. Printz Award” and the “Coretta Scott King Award.”
Awards & Achievements
In the 1980s, Myers won a number of awards, such as the “New Jersey State Council for the Arts Fellowship,” “National Endowment for the Arts Grant,” and “MacDowell Fellowship.”
In 1994, Walter won the “Alan Award for Outstanding Contribution to Young Adult Literature” and the “Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement.”
He won the “Anne V. Zarrow Award” and the “Virginia Hamilton Literary Award” from 1996 to 2003. He also took part in two “The Library of Congress National Book Festival” events.
In 2008, the University of Minnesota gave Myers the “Kerlan Award,” the West Virginia Library Association gave him the “Literary Merit Award,” and the Catholic Library Association gave him the “Katharine Drexel Award.”
From 2009 to 2012, this great writer was given the prestigious “Jeremiah Ludington Award” by the “Educational Paperback Association,” the “Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement,” the “Chicago Tribune Prize for Writers of Young Adult Literature,” and the “New York City Literary Honor for Children’s Literature.”
Dean was one of three people who were almost chosen for the “Astrid Lindgren Award.” He was also up for the “National Book Award for Young People’s Literature” three times.
Personal History and Legacies
Walter met and married a nice woman named Joyce before the 1960s. The famous author had two kids with her, Michael and Karen.
This marriage didn’t last long, and Myers says it was because he drank too much, didn’t have a good job, and lived a carefree life.
Soon after that, on June 19, 1973, he married a woman named Constance Brendel for the second time. This marriage did well, and they had a son named Christopher. Christopher grew up to be an artist who painted pictures of the stories his father told him.
In 2014, Myers had health problems, and he died on July 1, 2014, as a result.
Estimated Net worth
Walter is one of the wealthiest authors for young adults and is on the list of the most popular young adult authors. Based on what we found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Walter Dean Myers is worth about $85 million.
This African-American author was mentioned in ‘Love That Dog,’ a novella written by Sharon Creech in 2001. In the book, the main character sees the author as a hero.