Growing up, finding books for young people by black authors wasn’t as easy as it was to to find The Baby-Sitters Club, Goosebumps, and joints by S.E. Hinton and Judy Blume. But one author whose books received quite a bit of attention from my classmates back in the day was Walter Dean Myers. The author of books like Slam, Monster, Motown and Didi and many more works, has passed away at the age of 76 after battling a brief illness, this according to his publisher, HarperCollins.
In a statement, Susan Katz, the president and publisher for HarperCollins Children’s Books, which has released quite a few works from Myers, issued a statement about the loss of the celebrated author:
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of erudite and beloved author Walter Dean Myers. Walter’s many award-winning books do not shy away from the sometimes gritty truth of growing up. He wrote books for the reader he once was, books he wanted to read when he was a teen. He wrote with heart and he spoke to teens in a language they understood. For these reasons, and more, his work will live on for a long, long time.”
Others deeply saddened by the loss of Myers include the many fans of his work. Many of those who grew up with his work (and are of diverse backgrounds) took to Twitter to laud his talents and mourn his death.
“I am so very sad to hear the news about Walter Dean Myers. A literary icon, visionary and diversity advocate. He will be missed greatly.”
“Wow, Walter Dean Myers has passed on. Such a necessary voice for our young people, for us all… #walterdeanmyers“
“Slam and Monster. Those were my books. Still in my bedroom at home. Walter Dean Myers turned a lot of kids into readers.”
Myers’ work garnered Newberry Honor medals, National Book Award nominations, and quite a few lifetime achievement awards for the author. But most importantly, his work provided us with much needed protagonists of color in literature. He will be missed.