Walter Dean Myers and book covers

Author Walter Dean Myers to Share Message “Reading Is Not Optional”


Stephanie Edwards
Children’s Services Manager
Champaign Public Library                  

Walter Dean Myers, the critically acclaimed author of Monster, Sunrise Over Fallujah, and many other books for children and young adults, will be in Champaign to share a hard-hitting message for young people: “Reading is not optional.” His visit is part of a two-year tour as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. The Champaign Public Library will host him for two free public events.

On Mon., Mar. 25, at 7 pm, students in grade 4 and up, parents, and educators are invited to hear Myers speak at the Main Library. A book signing and question-and-answer session will follow a 45-minute presentation. Books can be purchased at the event and CPDUs will be available to educators.

On Tue., Mar. 26,  at 3:45 pm, the author will stop by the Douglass Branch Library for an hourlong meet-and-greet with teens.

While in Champaign, Myers also plans to talk with students at Central High School and visit the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center.

Myers’s books focus on the lives of urban teens, particularly at-risk African Americans, facing the challenges of drugs, gang violence, military service, or imprisonment. His many awards include two Newbery Honors and five Coretta Scott King Awards. His book Monster, about the murder trial of a young man in Harlem, was a 1999 National Book Award finalist. Myers is also known for his poetry, including the collection Jazz, a picture book, and Harlem, a book for older children that earned a Caldecott Honor for its illustrations by the author’s son, Christopher Myers.

The National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature initiative was created by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Children’s Book Council and its foundation, Every Child a Reader.

Myers’s Champaign visit is sponsored by the Children's Book Council and the Center for Children's Books at the University of Illinois.