Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsberg, West Virginia, into a very poor family. When he was three years old, he was adopted by Herbert and Florence Dean, who lived in Harlem. He began writing stories while still in his teens but had little hope of becoming a professional writer because, coming from a family of laborers, he too was expected to work with his hands. However, Myers refused to accept the notion that because he was black and poor he was restricted in what he could do. He enlisted in the army on his 17th birthday, and while there he read everything he could. After completing his army service, he took what jobs he could while continuing to write. He entered and won a 1969 contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children, which led to the publication of his first book for children, Where Does the Day Go? He has written more than 30 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. Aside from telling good stories, he strives to convey what he learned while young. His message to black youth is that although growing up is not easy and reality can be harsh, young African Americans can succeed despite the odds against them. His other works include Fallen Angels, The Righteous Revenge of Artemis Bonner, Now Is Your Time, and Jazz. He has won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. In addition to the publication of his books, he leads a writing workshop for children in a school in Jersey City, New Jersey.