Chris Barton on the Modern First Library


Chris Bartonlocal author and one of the founders of BookPeople’s Modern First Library, joins us today in our Modern First Library series. Barton is the author of ten books for children, most recently 88 Instruments and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions–illustrated by fellow Austinite Don Tate.

Check out the inception of the Modern First Library here, and read on for Barton’s take on the program two years later.

So, you’ve heard about Modern First Library, but you’re not sure that new picture books reflecting the diverse society experienced by today’s kids are for you.

Maybe you’re thinking, “My children aren’t ____________,” or “My kids already ____________.”

Or “I can’t think of any families that need ____________” or “I don’t know any kids who are ____________.”

Or even, “I don’t know any children. I mean, like, at all.”

I get it. You just aren’t sure.

Let me help you decide:

Modern First Library flowchart.png
Now, let’s say you find yourself at the Modern First Library display, and you spot 2015’s marvelous Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music, written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López.

The protagonist in this story is a pretty specific one: a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who wants to overcome taboos and become a drummer. But then, the protagonist in Goodnight Moon is pretty specific, too: a rabbit in stripy PJs trying to get to sleep in a great green room filled with weird stuff.

Forget those blanks above. I can’t think of any reason why any reader wouldn’t love the former just as much as the latter — can you? So why not give ’em both?

That’s what Modern First Library is all about.

Check out the BookPeople Modern First Library Initiative. Pairing beloved picture books that will never go out of style along with other favorites that reflect the diverse, global society of the 21st century, we’ve set out to make building a thoughtful library for any child in your life easy.

Chris_Barton_author_photo.jpgChris Barton is the author of picture books including bestseller Shark Vs. Train, Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, a 2016-17 Texas Bluebonnet Master List book. His new books in 2016 include Mighty Truck, 88 Instruments, and Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions. He visits lots of schools and has eight more books on the way in 2017-18 and could probably use a nap. Chris and his wife, novelist Jennifer Ziegler (Revenge of the Flower Girls, How Not to Be Popular), live in Austin, Texas, with their family. For more information about Chris, his books, and his presentations to students, writers, educators, and librarians, please visit

Looking for more thoughts on the Modern First Library? Check out the rest of the posts in the blog series:

Our Modern First Library Turns Two by Meghan Goel
Modern First Library by Chris Barton
The Word Library by Ellen Oh
I Need a Diverse Book by Phoebe Yeh

7 thoughts on “Chris Barton on the Modern First Library

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s