Today in YA History: August 12, 1937 – Walter Dean Myers born!

August 12, 1937: Author Walter Dean Myers (“Fallen Angels”, “Monster”, “Hoops”) is born in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Myers was raised in Harlem, New York by Herbert Dean and his wife Florence. He was fostered by the Deans when his mother died giving birth to Walter’s younger brother, Mickey.

On his website, Myers says, “As a child my life centered around the neighborhood and the church. The neighborhood protected me and the church guided me. Even though Myers dropped out of high school, one teacher (who knew Myers was planning to drop out) had seen how well he wrote. She told him to keep on writing no matter what happened. “It’s what you do,” she said.

At the time, Myers didn’t understand what the teacher’s words meant. But he recounted them years later, and beginning writing about his teenage years at night after working a construction job during the day.

Myers has written over fifty books, including novels and nonfiction works on black history. His novel Fallen Angels is one of the most frequently challenged books, due to “adult language and its realistic depiction of the Vietnam War.”

Myers explains his feeling for the young adult novel, “The special place of the young adult novel should be in its ability to address the needs of the reader to understand his or her relationships with the world, with each other, and with adults. The young adult novel often allows the reader to directly identify with a protagonist of similar interests and development… It is this language of values which I hope to bring to my books… I want to bring values to those who have not been valued.”

Myers–a father of four–lives in Jersey City, New Jersey with his family.

Happy 73rd birthday, Walter Dean Myers! And many, many more!

From Olivia: It seems one of his lesser spoken about books is the only one I’ve read, Shooter. It’s an absolutely fascinating read about a young man who ends up being a school shooter, his spiral into the madness, and the perspectives of the two friends who knew him. Pick it up at your local independent book store!

P.S.: It’s a slow week and a half coming up for this tag. YA History returns August 23rd! See you then!

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