Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers is the renowned author of AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MY DEAD BROTHER; SHOOTER, a Children's Book Sense Summer Pick; MONSTER, the first winner of the Michael L. Printz Award; THE DREAM BEARER; HANDBOOK FOR BOYS: A Novel; BAD BOY: A Memoir; and the Newbery Honor Books SCORPIONS and SOMEWHERE IN THE DARKNESS. He wrote THE HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS: WHEN PRIDE MET COURAGE; PATROL: AN AMERICAN SOLDIER IN VIETNAM, illustrated by Ann Grifalconi; I'VE SEEN THE PROMISED LAND: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and MALCOLM X: A Fire Burning Brightly, both illustrated by Leonard Jenkins; and the Caldecott Honor Book HARLEM and BLUES JOURNEY, both illustrated by Christopher Myers. He makes frequent appearances with the National Basketball Association's "Read to Achieve" program.

Walter Dean Myers was born Walter Milton Myers in Martinsburg, West Virginia. He didn't live there for long, however. 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.

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, who had a speech impediment, froze with fear at the thought. But when the teacher allowed the students to read something they had written themselves, Myers relaxed. He began writing poems made up only of words he could pronounce. He hasn't stopped writing since.

As a teenage African American in Harlem, a section of New York City, in the 1950s, Myers didn't have many public role models to look up to. He knew that he loved to read and write, but he didn't know that people could earn money by writing. As an adult, Myers eventually entered a contest for writers of picture books. "It was more because I wanted to write anything than because I wanted to write a picture book," he recalls. After he won the contest, he went on to write several more picture books. Later, he began to publish young adult novels, as well as science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction books. He writes mostly for young people because, he says, "The young adult and middle grade periods of my life were so vivid and, in looking back, so influential in how I would live the rest of my life, that I am drawn to [them] over and over again."

Mr. Myers lives with his family in Jersey City, New Jersey.


Love That Boy by Walter Dean Myers
Love that boy,
like a rabbit loves to run
I said I love that boy
like a rabbit loves to run
Love to call him in the morning
love to call him
"Hey there, son!"

He walk like his Grandpa,
Grins like his Uncle Ben.
I said he walk like his Grandpa,
And grins like his Uncle Ben.
Grins when he’s happy,
When he sad, he grins again.

His mama like to hold him,
Like to feed him cherry pie.
I said his mama like to hold him.
Like to feed him that cherry pie.
She can have him now,
I’ll get him by and by

He got long roads to walk down
Before the setting sun.
I said he got a long, long road to walk down
Before the setting sun.
He’ll be a long stride walker,
And a good man before he done.

The complete poem, Love That Boy by Walter Dean Myers.  Thanks to Astrid for supplying stanzas 2-4!