A Modern First Library List from Chris Barton

Guest Post by Austin Author Chris Barton

I can’t promise that the titles on my list for Modern First Library will sound as fresh to parents on their twentieth reading as they do on their first one.

But in putting my list together, I strove to remember how fun it was when the words in a picture book I read to my sons felt better and better coming out of my mouth with each reading — and how lousy it felt when a book wore out its welcome for me long before the boy in my lap grew tired of requesting it.

So here’s my list — eleven recent titles, because I just couldn’t keep it to ten — and what I love about each book, and why I think its readers will keep happily coming back for more.

Big Snow
by Jonathan Bean
Farrar Straus Giroux

You won’t find many protagonists more determined than David, practically willing the skies to deliver a decent covering of snow — and doing his best to help out around the house in the meantime (including a little indoor snow-shoveling in his dreams).


The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred
by Samantha Vamos, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

Rollicking, joyous, and warm, it takes a house-that-Jack-built approach to the making of arroz con leche, with assistance from a talented menagerie including a lime-picking donkey and a butter-churning goat.

The Little Little Girl with the Big Big Voice
by Kristen Balouch
Little Simon

Forget having an inside voice — the little, little girl of the title has a voice that’s too much for a handful of outdoor beasts, until she meets her match. This one offers a terrific mix of suspense and laughs.

Monday Is One Day
by Arthur A. Levine, illustrated by Julian Hector

This playful look at how families in a variety of configurations set aside time for each other throughout their busy weeks offers a short and sweet burst of reassurance and inspiration for readers familiar with spending their Mondays through Fridays apart.


Niño Wrestles the World
by Yuyi Morales
Roaring Brook

This ode to lucha libre features a luchador mask, underpants, and cover-to-cover action. What more do you need to know?


by Mary Brigid Barrett, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

This board book celebrates the tactile world around us, suggesting just a few of the things that could use a good patting — and no doubt inspiring readers to come up with plenty more of their own.

phoebe and diggerPhoebe & Digger
by Tricia Springstubb, illustrated by Jeff Newman

A winningly expressive digging toy and a satisfying dose of dry wit accompany our heroine as she deals with a crying baby sibling, a preoccupied parent, and an overbearing Big Kid at the park.

by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Houghton Mifflin

Whose attitude will carry the day when a happy kid in a frog hat crosses rain-soaked paths with a crabby old neighbor? It’s not hard to guess, perhaps, but it’s a delight to watch this story unfold.


Same, Same but Different
by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
Henry Holt

As a pair of young correspondents in the US and India bond by swapping information about their everyday lives, readers will enjoy the clever parallels and the visual details that illustrate them.

Tap Tap Boom Boom
by Elizabeth Bluemle, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

The upbeat rhythms of this vivid tale about an urban thunderstorm — and about the array of city dwellers that it brings together — are irresistible, and a hoot to master.


Wild Berries
by Julie Flett
Simply Read

In this soothing vignette about picking blueberries, it’s the bold use of the color red that grabs the readers’ eyes and draws them to the fun-to-learn Cree words (for grandma, bears, spider, sing, etc.) sprinkled throughout the text.



For more about BookPeople’s Modern First Library initiative, and for more recommendations of wonderful new and classic picture books to read, visit bookpeople.com.

4 thoughts on “A Modern First Library List from Chris Barton

  1. Awesome list! Nino is one of my favorites, and I am excited to learn about new titles as well!

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