Walter Dean Myers (born Walter Milton Myers, August 12, 1937, Martinsburg, West Virginia) is an African American author of young adult literature. Myers has written over fifty books, including novels and nonfiction works. He has won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. One of his novels, Fallen Angels, has made the American Library Association's list of frequently challenged books, due to adult language and its realistic depiction of the Vietnam War. Most of Myers' works are based in Harlem. His novels frequently portray urban teenagers struggling with gang life, drug use, violence, and peer pressure, who are trying to find ways out of the life they are born into.
When his mother died, while giving birth to his little brother, Myers was given over as a child to Herbert Dean and his wife, who raised him in Harlem, New York. Herbert was an African American man and his wife was of French and Italian descent, who taught English at the local high school. Myers dropped out of high school and joined the army on his 17th birthday. He wrote well in school, and was encouraged to write by his teachers. Myers would write at night, soon writing about his difficult teenage years. When asked what he valued most, he replied, "My books. They were my only real friend growing up,".