Black books: Chris Barton

Chris Barton_0161_ch_credit to Heather Gallagher Photography
photo credit: Heather Gallagher Photography

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.

Here’s Chris!

I love this project, and I’m so glad that you asked me to participate — thank you! Among my favorite titles are:

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

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