For 2012:

We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart
by Walter Dean Myers
and Christopher Myers

Published by Harper Collins

What does it mean to be an American?  What does America mean to you?   

History comes alive, in full and resplendent color, in this beautiful compilation of free verse, quotes, and oil pastel illustrations.  We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart explores all things American—in the most expansive and inclusive terms. From Native American legends, to the Declaration of Independence, to the hard-won freedoms following the Civil War, to the women’s movement, to railroad builders, to Rock and Roll, to astronauts, this book reveals the ordinary and extraordinary people who shaped our complex nation.  It bears witness to our country’s lush landscapes, fierce social movements, and our collective progress, set-backs, grief, and triumph.  Above all, We are America: A Tribute from the Heart shows what it means to strive and to hope.

The NCV Foundation selects We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart for the 2012 Storylines Award.  The book moves, educates, inspires.  It encourages readers to think deeply, and love realistically.  By sharing what America means to them, Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers give us a patriotic map for rediscovering our country.  It’s a powerful call to action: to examine where we have been as a nation, and what lies ahead.   With the utmost respect and gratitude, the NCV Foundation celebrates the amazing father-son team, Walter and Chris Myers—their artistry, honesty, integrity, brilliance, sensitivity, profundity, and vital contributions to literature and art.  

Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers are the Storylines Award recipients and student submission judges for 2012.

Walter Dean Myers is the author of more than 50 books.  He is a five-time Coretta Scott King Award winner, three time Newberry Honor winner, first-ever recipient of the Printz Award, winner of a Margaret Edwards Award, three-time National Book Award Finalist, the inaugural recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a New York Times bestseller.  He was recently named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.  Raised in Harlem, in a diverse family (African-American, German, Native American), Walter dropped out of high school (though Stuyvesant High now claims his as a graduate), and joined the army at age 17.  In high school, he wrote stories; a teacher who knew he was going to drop out of school advised him to keep writing, no matter what happened to him.  She said, “It’s what you do.”  Walter didn’t know quite what she meant till after the army, when he was working a construction job in New York City.  He began writing at night, about the most difficult years of his life—his teen years.  Today, Walter is one of the preeminent writers for children and young adults in the world.  He lives in New Jersey with his family.

Christopher Myers illustrated the Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Harlem and the Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Jazz, both written by Walter Dean Myers.  He wrote and illustrated the Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Black Cat.  His work has been shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem; PS1, an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, in Queens; the Akron Art Museum in Ohio; San Art in Ho Chi Minh City; and the Contrasts Gallery in Shanghai.  A graduate of Brown University, he has participated in the exclusive Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Studio Program.  He teaches at Parsons School of Design and lives in Brooklyn.  Christopher firmly believes that life is a story, and that we all have stories to tell. He says, “You live your life, and that’s interesting. Where you live is interesting. Where you come from is interesting – no matter who you are.”  

Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers have also collaborated on: Looking Like Me; Blues Journey; and Time to Love: Stories from the Old Testament

“No words here have been penned lightly, no flag waved mindlessly. This is simply my truest feelings for my country, my tribute to America.”  —Walter Dean Myers, We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart

“Christopher Myers spent months doing historical research before beginning his artwork, which took three years to create. The finished illustrations actually are monumental in size — 3 feet by 9 feet — and represent an enormous time commitment because Christopher Myers used oil pastels to create them.”

“[After September 11, 2001], I saw how people were talking about patriotism, and they were not including black people, not including Latinos, they were not including any women…Many of the definitions were bothersome, if for no other reason that they didn’t seem to include me.”  —Walter Dean Myers

“Concerned about this narrow definition of patriotism, [Walter] embarked on a years-long effort to capture his own view of what it means to be an American. He went back and re-read such core U.S. documents as the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and The Federalist Papers, and spent time pondering key events in American history….for Walter Dean Myers, writing the poems for We Are America [were] a way to, [in Walter’s words,] “take responsibility for my country.”

“Doing books is one of our ways of talking with each other. We are privileged to be able to let the world in on our conversation. … The questions that we ask each other, we get to discuss them by making a book. It’s such a gift, especially for us as father and son.” —Christopher Myers


2011 Ashley Bryan
2010 Naomi Shihab Nye   
2009 Silas House