Walter Dean Myers

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Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers is a writer of children's and young adult literature. Born in West Virginia in 1937, after his mother died, when Myers was only two, he was sent to live with foster parents. With these parents, Florence and Herbert Dean, Walter moved to Harlem. The Deans were good to Myers, and as an adult he took their last name as his own middle name, to honor them. Myers spent most of his young adult life in Harlem. "Harlem became my home and the place where my first impressions of the world were set," says Myers. He also suffered with a speech impediment, but cultivated a habit of writing short stories, as well as poetry and acquired an early love of reading.Walter Dean Myers discovered he loved to write when he was in fifth grade. His teacher required that all her students read in front of the class. Myers froze with fear at the thought, because of his speech impediment which made communicating difficult for him; and the result was that Myers often found himself in fights, defending himself against kids who taunted him. But when the teacher allowed the students to read something they had written themselves, Myers relaxed. He began writing poems which were made up only of words he could pronounce. Along with the many things he was discovering about himself, Myers was also learning how to survive. One day he had the courage to break up a fight between three gang members and a kid who had just moved into the neighborhood. He became a marked man. For example, once, he was sitting in the tree reading when some gang members spotted him and surrounded the tree. Myers jumped to the ground, and made a mad dash for his building. He escaped, but he never forgot the incident. Later he enlisted in the army, went through a turbulent creative struggle, but kept writing.He hasn't stopped writing since. 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...
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