Walter Dean Myers inaugural recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement

Contacts: Macey Morales/Jennifer Petersen
ALA Media Relations
312-280-4393/5043 /

For Immediate Release                                    
January 18, 2010

BOSTON – Walter Dean Myers is the winner of the first Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. The announcement was made today by the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting held Jan. 15 – 19 in Boston.

The Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement is named in memory of distinguished and beloved children’s author Virginia Hamilton. The award is presented annually and will be presented in even years (i.e. 2010, 2012, 2014…), to an African American author, illustrator or author/illustrator for a body of his or her published books for children and/or young adults who has made a significant and lasting literary contribution.

In alternate years (i.e. 2011, 2013, 2015 …), the award will honor a practitioner for substantial  contributions through active engagement with youth using award-winning African American literature for children and/or young adults, via implementation of reading and reading related activities/programs. The recipient may be a public librarian, academic librarian, school librarian (public or private), an educator (pre K-12 or any level therein, or higher education) or youth literature advocate whose vocation, work, volunteer service or ongoing promotion of books with and/or on behalf of youth is significant and sustained. 

“Myers’ body of work offers a mirror, validating lives of young people whose varied existence remains in the shadows virtually invisible to the larger world,” stated Barbara Jones Clark, Award Committee Chair.

Critically acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers has redefined the image of African American youth. He has garnered major youth literary awards: five Coretta Scott King Awards, four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards and the first Michael L. Printz Award. He is a two-time Newbery Honor medalist, a two-time National Book Award finalist, a two-time Jane Addams Children’s Book Award winner and a five-time Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor recipient.  Myers received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for “lifetime contribution to young adult literature” in 1994, and was named the 2009 May Hill Arbuthnot Lecturer.

Myers’ body of work is chiefly fiction and also includes biography, poetry, history and memoir. The community of Harlem and ongoing dialogues with today’s youth serve as his muse. He writes authentically in the voice of young people. He is best known for creating vivid, unflinching stories that speak candidly of the lives of teens. For four decades, his characters have wrestled with life changing decisions (“Scorpions”), romance (“Amiri & Odette”), family relationships (“Somewhere in the Darkness” and “Motown and Didi”) and friendships (“Mojo and the Russians”). While his stories often incorporate humor, music, sports and adventure, they also address challenging themes such as incarceration (“Monster”), and war (“Fallen Angels” and “Sunrise Over Fallujah”).

Myers resides in Jersey City, New Jersey, with his wife Constance and is the father of three adult children. He often collaborates with his son, illustrator Christopher Myers (“Harlem,” “Jazz” and “Looking Like Me).” Myers received his B.A. degree from Empire State College, State University of New York.

Virgina Hamilton was a scholar whose journey included collecting the stories of oral traditions as well as searching through the nation’s archives to bring alive the African-American experience. In addition, she was a tireless champion for the expansion of multicultural voices and parallel cultures in books for children and young adults. Ms. Hamilton was noted by Entertainment Weekly as “a majestic presence in children’s literature.”

Members of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement Award Committee are: Chair Barbara Jones Clark, Birmingham Public Schools, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Pauletta Brown Bracy, North Carolina Central University, Durham, N.C.; Loretta Dowell, San Francisco Public Library; Ginny Moore Kruse, University of Wisconsin – Madison; and Sandra Payne, Retired, New York Public Library. 

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world with over 62,000 members.  Its mission is to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

For more information on the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit