To honor the late Walter Dean Myers on the third anniversary of his appointment as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, the Children’s Book Council CBC Diversity Initiative has introduced the “It’s Possible” blog series, featuring five publishing professionals sharing their memories of working with Myers.
The prolific children’s book author, who died last year at the age of 76, grew up in Harlem and was a staunch advocate for diversity in children’s books. He wrote more than 100 fiction, nonfiction, and picture books for children and young adults that dealt with issues of race, including Monster (HarperCollins), Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices (Holiday House), and 1988 Vietnam War saga and Coretta Scott King Award-winner Fallen Angels (Scholastic).
Myers, who also wrote several children’s books about black history icons Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., won the Coretta Scott King Award four other times, as well as the Newbery Honor medal for Scorpions and Somewhere in the Darkness. He was also a former board member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
The “It’s Possible” series, which is available on the CBC Diversity website, is introduced with a letter to the late author from Scholastic Vice President and Executive Editor of Trade Books Andrea Davis Pinkney. The series’ first entry is by Miriam Altshuler, Myers’ literary agent at Russell & Volkening, who recounts her client’s deep commitment to writing literature for children of all colors and backgrounds.
Myers’ former editors Phoebe Yeh and Regina Griffin, his longtime publicist Virginia Anagnos, and Jennifer Brown, director of the Center for Children’s Literature at the Bank Street College of Education, also contributed to the CBC series.
The CBC Diversity Initiative was founded in 2012 to advocate for an inclusive and representative children’s book publishing industry.