Award-winning children's author Walter Dean Myers dies

Myers, author of such books as 'Hoops' and 'Monster,' recently published an essay lamenting what he saw as a lack of diverse characters in children's literature.

By , Staff Writer

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    Walter Dean Myers died at the age of 76.
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Children’s author Walter Dean Myers has died.

Myers is remembered for such works as “Hoops,” “Monster,” and “Motown and Didi.” The author received the Coretta Scott King Award for African-American fiction five times and received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, received the Newbery Honor six times, and was nominated three times for the National Book Award, including for the 2010 book “Lockdown.”   

“He wrote with heart and he spoke to teens in a language they understood,” Susan Katz, president and publisher of Myers’ publisher HarperCollins Children’s Books, said in a statement, according to the New York Times

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According to USA Today, Richard Robinson of Scholastic said in a statement, “[Myers] changed the face of children's literature by representing the diversity of the children of our nation in his award-winning books. He was a deeply authentic person and writer who urged other authors, editors and publishers not only to make sure every child could find him or herself in a book, but also to tell compelling and challenging stories.”

Myers was born in Martinsburg, W.Va. and played basketball in school. He left high school and entered the Army when he was 17 and published his first book, “Where Does the Day Go?,” in 1969. He would go on to write over 100 books and was the ambassador for young people’s literature from 2012 to 2013. He frequently visited schools and prisons all over the country. 

He published an essay titled “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?” in the New York Times this past March. 

“Books transmit values,” he wrote. “They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books? Where are the future white personnel managers going to get their ideas of people of color? Where are the future white loan officers and future white politicians going to get their knowledge of people of color? Where are black children going to get a sense of who they are and what they can be?” 

His book “On a Clear Day” will be published in September and another title, “Juba!,” will be released in the spring of 2015, according to USA Today.

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