Born and raised in Utah, Walton is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church. He served as a missionary to Brazil from 1976 to 1978, soon after he graduated from high school. Later, at Brigham Young University, he became president of the Brazil Club. In 1980, he graduated from Brigham Young with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and a minor in Portuguese, the language spoken in Brazil.
Walton's education continued after he obtained his degree. In 1980, he went back to Brigham Young for one semester of graduate work in business, but chose not to follow that career path. Deciding to become a teacher, he earned certification in elementary education from Brigham Young in 1987, as well as certification to teach gifted and talented students. Up to that point, he had held a number of jobs, including a year with the parks and recreation department of Provo, Utah. In 1987, he began teaching sixth grade at a local public school, then switched to a private school.
Also interested in computers, Walton would later publish several items of software. He left teaching to accept a position as software designer for IBM in 1989. In 1994, he turned to freelance software design and writing. He also returned to Brigham Young University once again, this time to earn his master's degree in English, with an emphasis on creative writing.
Walton's wife, Ann, with whom he has written many of his books, is a computer programmer. They were married in 1983, and have five children. With Dumb Clucks! and Something's Fishy! in 1987, the Waltons began writing books.