This year, I’ve invited non Black people who are in someway connected to youth literature to share a list of 5-10 books written or illustrated by Blacks that will appeal to children. I asked for anything from board books and graphic novels to biographies and adult crossover. The authors or illustrators could be living or dead, U.S. residents or not. The results have been quite amazing! Today, children’s book author Chris Barton is sharing some of his favorites. I really appreciate the diversity of his list, some new titles along with some older ones; memoirs and nonfiction right there alongside picture books.
Chris Barton is the author of picture books including bestseller Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, which was included on 19 state reading lists.
I love this project, and I’m so glad that you asked me to participate — thank you! Among my favorite titles are:
- Becoming Kareem, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Little, Brown Books, 2017)
- Eighth-Grade Superzero, by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (Turtleback Books, 2011)
- Everett Anderson’s Goodbye, by Lucille Clifton and Ann Grifalconi (Henry Holt and Co., 1988)
- March (Trilogy), by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf 2016)
- Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir, by Nikki Grimes (Wordsong, 2019)
- The Patchwork Bike, by Maxine Beneba Clarke and illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd (Candlewick, 2018)
- So you want to talk about race, by Ijeoma Oluo (Basic Books, 2020)
- Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas, by Michael Hurd (University of Texas Press, 2019)
- The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just, by Mélina Mangal and illustrated by Luisa Uribe (Millbrook Press, 2018)
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson (1st Vintage/Random House, 2011)
Chris is married to YA/middle-grade novelist Jennifer Ziegler (How Not to Be Popular, the Brewster Triplets series). He and Jennifer have one daughter, three sons, and one dog. They live in Austin, Texas, where Chris has advocated for greater diversity in children’s literature by cofounding the Modern First Library program with independent bookseller BookPeople. He visits schools by the score and also loves speaking to professional gatherings of librarians, educators, and fellow writers.
For more information about Chris, please visit www.chrisbarton.info.
Coming from Chris Barton in 2020: FIRE TRUCK VS. DRAGON and ALL OF A SUDDEN AND FOREVER: HELP AND HEALING AFTER THE OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING. His recent titles include the MIGHTY TRUCK early reader series, WHOOSH! (included on 19 state reading lists), DAZZLE SHIPS (an Orbis Pictus Honor book), and WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A VOICE LIKE THAT? (included on the 2020-21 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List). He also authored THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS (winner, Sibert Honor) and SHARK VS. TRAIN (a New York Times bestseller). You can visit Chris at www.chrisbarton.info