Eric Walters, writer (born at Toronto, Ont 3 Mar 1957). Raised in Toronto, Eric Walters began his career as a social worker, receiving a BA in Psychology, a Bachelor of Social Work, and a Master of Social Work at York University. He completed both his BSW and his MSW via part-time studies while working full-time as a social worker in a variety of settings, including child welfare, private practice and a mental health centre. Walters had, however, always wanted to pursue a career in teaching, and later completed his Bachelor of Education while still working full-time as a social worker. During his teaching career, Walters began writing novels for his class as a way of engaging his students; now that he has published numerous novels for young adults, his accessible and engaging novels reach youth across Canada.
In 1993, while he was teaching a grade 5 class at Vista Heights Public School in Streetsville, Ont, Walters wrote his first novel, Stand Your Ground (1994), to encourage his students to become more involved in literature. The novel was set at Vista Heights, and included locations from the community and the names of several of his students. Following the success of this book Walters continued to write a novel for his class each year, often focusing on local issues and featuring students from his school. Some of his other novels bring historical characters to life, such as inventor Alexander Graham Bell in The Hydrofoil Mystery (1999) and explorer Robert Bartlett in Trapped in Ice (1997).
Whether his novels are set in modern or historical times, two main themes run through Walters' books: the importance of belonging, and a person's power to make changes in his or her own life. In an interview with The Canadian Review of Materials, Walters discusses this focus on creating strong characters who take ownership of their actions: "There's nothing more wonderful than overcoming adversity, to stare it in the eyes and to win. We don't have to be victims. One of the societal trends I see is looking for someone to blame for what's gone wrong for you. You've got to take responsibility for things. Rather than finding an excuse to fail, find a reason to succeed."
Walters has published more than 60 novels for young adults. These works have garnered more than 80 awards, including honours from 11 separate children's choice awards. Walters is the only 3-time winner of both the Ontario Library Association's Silver Birch and Red Maple Awards. In addition to being some of the best-selling children's literature in Canada, Walters' novels are available in countries across the world and have been translated into French, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Chinese, Dutch, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and Slovenian. Walters is also well-known for giving presentations to students across Canada, blending drama, storytelling, and audience participation in an attempt to excite youth about reading and writing.
Living in Mississauga, Ont, Walters now focuses his time solely on writing and philanthropic work, having left both teaching and social work. In March 2008, Walters and his wife Anita founded a children's outreach program, the Creation of Hope, which provides direct support, education, advocacy, micro-grants and micro-loans for over 500 orphans living in Kikima, a small rural county in Kenya. The program completed the construction of its first children's home, the Rolling Hills Residence, in September 2009.