One Week After His Passing, LSU's Dr. Steve Bickmore and the YAL Community Reflect on the Life and Work of Author Walter Dean Myers
His novel, Monster (Myers & Myers, 1999), was the first novel I selected for the first young adult literature course I taught at the university level in the fall of 2002. It was published in 1999 and I thought it was a “new” selection. It won the first Printz Award, was named a Coretta Scott King Award Honor book, and nominated for the National Book Award. It was a rewarding experience for me and the students. As I visited high schools in the Athens, Georgia area, I realized that I wasn't as “cutting edge” as I imagined. It was already in classroom and in the hands of students. I found dog-eared copies everywhere. And so it goes. Teachers who know kids, know what to offer them. If you know Walter Dean Myers’ work, you understand the loss and the great gift he was to young adult literature. If you don’t, you should. I can’t come close to the tributes given by those who knew him and worked with him. I will do my best to point you to some sources. My favorite is from an LSU YAL participant, Chris Crutcher and his post on his Facebook page and I shared it on mine.
You should also bookmark the Wikipedia page, it provides a starting point and a reminder of his life and career. Bookmark a few tributes so that when you are teaching that next YA literature course or sharing with students you can reminded them that real people write the books they love. People who care deeply about who they are writing for and who, as Walter did, work to inspire and offer possibility. Check The Huffington Post, The LA Times, CNN.com, and The New York Times .
Rest in Peace, Walter
Steven T. Bickmore