Meet the Author

Walter Dean Myers

Portrait of Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers discovered he loved to write when he was in fifth grade. His teacher required that all her students read in front of the class. Myers, who had a speech impediment, froze with fear at the thought. But when the teacher allowed the students to read something they had written themselves, Myers relaxed. He began writing poems made up only of words he could pronounce. He hasn't stopped writing since.

As a teenage African American in Harlem, a section of New York City, in the 1950s, Myers didn't have many public role models to look up to. He knew that he loved to read and write, but he didn't know that people could earn money by writing. As an adult, Myers eventually entered a contest for writers of picture books. "It was more because I wanted to write anything than because I wanted to write a picture book," he recalls. After he won the contest, he went on to write several more picture books. Later, he began to publish young adult novels, as well as science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction books. He writes mostly for young people because, he says, "The young adult and middle grade periods of my life were so vivid and, in looking back, so influential in how I would live the rest of my life, that I am drawn to [them] over and over again."

Walter Dean Myers was born Walter Milton Myers in Martinsburg, West Virginia. He didn't live there for long, however. After his mother died, when Myers was only two, he was sent to live with foster parents. With these parents, Florence and Herbert Dean, Walter moved to Harlem. The Deans were good to Myers, and as an adult he took their last name as his own middle name, to honor them.

Photography Credit


Other Books Written by Walter Dean Myers

  • Fast Sam, Cool Clyde, and Stuff
  • Hoops
  • The Legend of Tarik
  • Shadow of the Red Moon
    (illustrated by Christopher Myers)
  • Me, Mop, and the Moondance Kid
  • Mop, Moondance, and the Nagasaki Knights
  • Young Martin's Promise
    (illustrated by Barbara Higgins Bond)
  • 145th Street: Short Stories
  • Amistad: A Long Road to Freedom
  • At Her Majesty's Request: An African Princess in Victorian England
  • Harlem
    (illustrated by Christopher Myers)