Walter Dean Myers: “Reading is Not Optional”

Mix IT Up! is happy to report that acclaimed author of several award-winning books for children and young adults Walter Dean Myers will be visiting Champaign-Urbana as part of a two-year national tour as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Myers, whose work has earned him the Margaret A. Edwards award, the Michael L. Printz award, five Coretta Scott King author awards, two Newbery honors, and three spots as a National Book Award finalist, will speak at two public engagements during his visit about his platform as Ambassador: Reading is Not Optional.

On Monday, March 25 at 7 pm at the Champaign Public Library, Myers will give a hard-hitting talk about his campaign, as well as his experiences as a reader and writer. A Q&A session and book signing will follow. This talk is free and open to the public of all ages, and can provide CPDUs for Illinois educators.

On Tuesday, March 26, Myers will speak at an informal meet-and-greet for middle schoolers and teens at 3:45 pm at the Douglass Branch of the CPL, a Mix IT Up! community partner. During this time, geared towards young people, Myers will integrate his personal experiences with his career as a writer and his belief in the power of reading and education.

During his visit, Myers will also speak at a private engagement at another Mix IT Up! community partner site, the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center. Myers will also meet with students at Central High School in Champaign during his stay.

Please see the attached flier for more information about Myers’s public events. We’re excited to see what can happen as part of these engagements!


Walter Dean Myers Flier

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One Response to Walter Dean Myers: “Reading is Not Optional”

  1. mixituplis says:

    Walter Dean Myers visited Douglass BL today and spent about an hour greeting and speaking about his life, influences, and writing discipline.

    He often spoke about his influences being raised in Harlem. He referred to one of his books, ‘Here in Harlem’, during the presentation. He highlighted how his family tree is traced back to that of Dorothy Dandridge. He also wrote about Duke Ellington, and many others in this books of poems.

    His keynote message was “Reading Is Not Optional.”

    His mother was a slow-paced reader, but nonetheless taught him how to read at a young age. His father, like many other men in the community was illiterate, but took great pride in providing for the family. He had a service-based job, like many other providing men in Harlem, he said. His father was a janitor.

    Mr. Myers stressed how important it is for children to see and hear about these professions loosely when they in the presence of their parents and other adults. He benefitted from seeing and hearing of such from the working class culture Harlem during his youth.

    Mr. Myers talked about how his father’s generation’s service-level and factory jobs are not guaranteed to come back, and it is so vital for young people to arm themselves with literacy and disciplines that can lead them to a profession well before they are ready to join the workforce.

    He referred to one of his books, called ‘Here in Harlem’, during the presentation. He highlighted how his family tree is traced back to that of Dorothy Dandridge. He also wrote about Duke Ellington, and many others in this books of poems.

    I felt honored to be in attendance as he shared life lessons and history that he writes in his books and reveals in other speaking engagements throughout the year.

    His worldly knowledge showed itself as he reflected on how so many similar aspirations and conflicts concerning families, neighborhoods, and employment are as relevant and familiar in other countries, such as Canada, England, Australia, as they are in USA.

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