Walter Dean Myers Visits Kalamazoo

Jul 29, 2013 01:30:06 PM


Kalamazoo, MI –

Kalamazoo Public Library is honored to host the 2012 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Walter Dean Myers for a two-day visit to Kalamazoo Public Library on Tuesday, August 6, 6 pm at the Central Library (315 South Rose Street) and on Wednesday, August 7, 3 pm at the Powell Branch Library (1000 West Patterson).

“Reading is not optional.” –Walter Dean Myers.

When Walter Dean Myers decided to drop out of high school, it was a teacher who told him to keep writing, no matter what. “It’s what you do,” she said. It was something that young Myers took to heart and years later, while working construction, he started writing and hasn’t stopped since. Myers’ books are inspired by his own challenging upbringing in Harlem and chronicle the lives of urban teenagers, primarily young, poor, African Americans. His work includes poetry, nonfiction and picture books for children.

Myers will visit two of Kalamazoo Public Library’s locations to discuss with children why reading is “not optional.”  Myers understands the potential teasing youth may face when being seen with library books. “I was teased if I brought books home. I would take a paper bag to the library and put the books in the bag to bring home…I felt a little ashamed having books.” During his visit, Myers will speak about his rough upbringing, the vital importance of reading to children and how integral reading is for the intellectual development of all children, especially at-risk youth.

Myers was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in 2012. As part of this role, he is touring for two years, speaking to schools and libraries about reading and literacy. Myers is the third person to be appointed to the post, which was created in 2008 and is chosen by a committee formed by two groups: the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and Every Child a Reader, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Children’s Book Council, a trade association of children’s book publishers. He succeeds Katherine Patterson, the novelist best known for “Bridge to Terabithia” and Jon Scieszka, author of “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.”

The selection of Walter Dean Myers for the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature is a bold statement. While his body of work includes poetry, nonfiction and picture books for children, his most notable works are aimed at young-adult readers and include stories of teenagers in violent gangs, soldiers headed to Iraq and juvenile offenders imprisoned for their crimes.

The Kalamazoo Public Library is honored to host Mr. Myers, and invites the public to join us for lively discussion and an opportunity to meet Walter Dean Myers. Myers will sign copies of his books (for sale courtesy of Bookbug.)  Refreshments will be provided.

For more information about Walter Dean Myers, visit



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