“I believe, as an artist, that your primary goal should be to build an important body of work that will be here long after you’re gone. A body of work that your family can be proud of. A body of work that will make people feel good about themselves, that will make them think, laugh and cry. That’s what I’ve always tried to do. Make something meaningful.”





(Click on cover to Order)

Victory. Stand!- Raising My Fist For Justice

(Norton Young Readers/W.W. Norton)




Starred Reviews

d-gold-star-render-five-pointed-46161521“Authentic and inspiring.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

d-gold-star-render-five-pointed-46161521“Compelling . . . A powerful celebration of resistance.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

d-gold-star-render-five-pointed-46161521“A compelling and engaging account of an iconic moment.”

—Booklist, starred review

d-gold-star-render-five-pointed-46161521“An illuminating example of the power of a moral stance.”
― School Library Journal starred review

Winner of the 2023 YALSA Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction Award

Finalist for the 2022 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

A Coretta Scott King Award Author and Illustrator Honor Book

Washington Post Best Book of the Year

Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Booklist Best Book of the Year

Horn Book Fanfare Title


On October 16, 1968, during the medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympics, Tommie Smith, the gold medal winner in the 200-meter sprint, and John Carlos, the bronze medal winner, stood on the podium in black socks and raised their black-gloved fists to protest racial injustice inflicted upon African Americans. Both men were forced to leave the Olympics, received death threats, and faced ostracism and continuing economic hardships.

In his first-ever memoir for young readers, Tommie Smith looks back on his childhood growing up in rural Texas through to his stellar athletic career, culminating in his historic victory and Olympic podium protest. Cowritten with Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Honor recipient Derrick Barnes and illustrated with bold and muscular artwork from Emmy Award–winning illustrator Dawud Anyabwile, Victory. Stand! paints a stirring portrait of an iconic moment in Olympic history that still resonates today.






The Queen of Kindergarten

(Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin)


(Click on cover to Order)

A confident little Black girl has a fantastic first day of school in this companion to the New York Times bestseller The King of Kindergarten.

MJ is more than ready for her first day of kindergarten! With her hair freshly braided and her mom’s special tiara on her head, she knows she’s going to rock kindergarten. But the tiara isn’t just for show—it also reminds her of all the good things she brings to the classroom, stuff like her kindness, friendliness, and impressive soccer skills, too! Like The King of Kindergarten, this is the perfect book to reinforce back-to-school excitement and build confidence in the newest students.

Click HERE to check out the official Queen of Kindergarten book trailer.



The Queen hit the NY Times Best Seller list on August 22, 2022


“… A great choice for combating first-day jitters and building confidence.” —Booklist

” . . . Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work.” —Kirkus Reviews

“…There’s not a dull color in this palette of vivid tones, and dynamic figures convey the cheerful busyness of the classroom. A nod to Barnes’ Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is cleverly slipped in, making this a nice intro to Barnes’ other stellar works.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“…This title is outstanding not only for setting forth worthwhile goals for a child, but giving concrete examples of what those virtuous statements look like in the real world. Warm, loving illustrations accompany a text that is even better than the first title. Highly recommended for all royalty entering kindergarten, as well as others who can see themselves bringing their special gifts to make their school, and world, better by their actions and positive spirit.” —School Library Journal

“. . . According to MJ’s conversational first-person text, queenly behaviors include: kindness, caring, and helpfulness, all traits that she displays throughout the school day. . .  —Horn Book

“Brantley-Newton embellishes inclusive classroom scenes with swirls and bubbles of cheery color, limning kindergarten as a happy, busy place from day one, with plenty of opportunities to shine. Making MJ the narrator underscores her confidence, maturity, and sense of belonging, helping the protagonist—and readers—feel that she’s got this.” —Publishers Weekly



(Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin)

(Click Book Cover To Order)


(Click To View the OFFICIAL 30-second Book Trailer)

So, you know the brilliant, courageous, revolutionary mind that is Tiffany M. Jewell, right? She is the #1 NY Times Bestselling anti-racist author/ educator of the honest and essential title for middle grade and high school students, This Book Is Anti-Racist. Well, amongst her many other talents and exceptional skills…she also crafts exceptional study/learning guides for picture books! Yeah—I know—she’s dope, right?

Educators, Parents, click the cover of the learning guide below to take you to a PDF version.

Good looking out, Tiffany.

IAEGT-Learning Guide

IMG_20200614_131411 (1)

Author’s Note

On January 8, 2018, a multinational retail clothing chain released ads featuring children of different nationalities wearing hoodies with messages in big block letters on the front.  The shirts that really stood out were worn by two very handsome young gentlemen. If I had to guess, they were both between the ages of nine and ten. One White. One Black. The White boy’s orange shirt read ‘Official Survival Expert’. The Black boy’s green hoodie read “The Coolest Monkey in The Jungle”.

“The Coolest Monkey In The Jungle”?!!?

Black Twitter exploded with rage. So did I.

My first reaction, as the father of four beautiful, strong, brilliant Black boys was, “You don’t get to decide who or what we are. We do!” The perpetuation of negative stereotypes of Black boys and men feeds into conjured up fears, misconceptions and creates a cyclical misunderstanding of who we are, how we have been treated, and what we really mean to our loved ones—what we mean to America. The disrespect, arrogance, and irresponsibility of the ad was appalling….but not a surprise.

There is a long and dark history of humiliating and inhumane depictions of Black people in American advertising, films, and books that have left an indelible stain on the psyche of Black and Brown children for decades. These damaging ideals, whether they be rooted in hate or a blind ignorance, have to be dismantled, piece by piece.

This is one offering of many.

In no way shape or form will I ever try to lessen, soften, make docile or ‘non-threatening’ my Black boy protagonists. They are depicted just as they are in real life, and in the hearts and minds of the people who love them, support them, cheer them on, and lift them up in every possible way. Black boys are cocky and considerate. Black boys are humorous and humble. Blackboys have swagger and are sensitive. Black boys have an edge, a machismo. They are compassionate and thoughtful. We are tired of explaining how they are just as important and valuable to us as any other son of any other color.

Black boys are everything to us. Black boys are everything.

And this is also not an attempt to show the humanity of Black boys. Their birth right alone gives them just as much privilege as every living, breathing human being on the planet Earth. If anything, those who still live with antiquated, biased views of our sons, our boys, it is you who need to prove your humanity to them—to us.


SIX STARRED reviews!

I Am Every_Starred Asset2 (2)

I AM EVERY GOOD THING debuts on the NY TIMES BESTSELLERS LIST at #5 and the Indie Bound Bestsellers List at #3!

IMG-20200909-WA0003 I Am Every_Indie Insta

I AM EVERY GOOD THING was curated on a list by the AMAZING Jacqueline Woodson in the June issue of OPRAH MAGAZINE!

Super-sweet Hollywood Superstar Jennifer Garner chose Derrick and
I AM EVERY GOOD THING as the first Storyteller for
Once Upon A Farms!

(Click Image to See Jennifer Read A Portion Of IAEGT!)
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is gordon.j.garner.onlineread.jpg


Check out the amazing interview of Derrick and Gordon C. James on only the second episode of the AMAZING Drew Barrymore Show to discuss I AM EVERY GOOD THING!


Amazing But True Stories

(Workman Publishing)

Who Got Game cover

(Click book cover to order)


WHO GOT GAME?: BASEBALL will be my first non-fiction project. WHO GOT GAME  will be a three-book series (baseball, basketball and football) for all of you  stats and sports history-heads. I love researching, and I also love shining light on little known pillars of each sports. I also wanted to touch on the social and societal effects of the games as well as their evolution. For many American sports, women and people of color were denied the right to even play, which often prompted the creation of side leagues. Over time, as a result of protests and the eventual realization that their teams would probably win more games with the addition of the unbelievable athletes that were being denied, team owners gave in in 1947. It doesn’t matter your gender or the color of one’s skin—if you can ball, you can ball. Period.

There are 45 fascinating baseball records, personalities, and anecdotes rarely mentioned in popular baseball lore. Like John “Bud” Fowler, William Edward White, Moses Fleetwood Walker, and Weldy Walker—four African Americans who integrated white teams decades before Jackie Robinson. Or Jackie Mitchell, the 17-year-old girl who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Plus inglorious records, including the longest pro game ever played (8 hours and 25 minutes) and Hughie Jennings, known for being hit by the most pitches in a season (51). The illustrations are vibrant and fun. My man, the talented, John John Bajet does an excellent job of bringing these heroes and cool records and stories to life.

Book One, Baseball, will release on March 17, 2020. I’ll be on a twelve -city tour, which will be posted shortly, so stay tuned, and please come out to say hello and pick up a signed copy or two. Big shout out to the amazing crew at Workman Publishing. You know them—the geniuses behind your kids’ favorite educational tools like the AWESOME BrainQuest workbooks that you know you’ve purchased over the years. I now that I do, every summer for my boys. Get a new workbook and add WGG: Baseball to the mix while you’re at it.

Batter up!

L J image

WHO GOT GAME?: BASEBALL Receives a Starred review from the School Library Journal !


CROWN: An Ode To The Fresh Cut (Chinese Edition)

That’s right—you see it—Chinese Edition.  We’ve sold the rights to China Population Publishing House based in Bejing.  CROWN in Mandarin, baby! As of 2018, there were 264 Mandarin immersion schools in the US alone. This super-multi award-winning picturebook MUST become a fixture for your libraries and classrooms.

Release date: June 1, 2019

To order, click on that handsome book cover:





                                                                        (Click book cover to order)


(Click pic to take you to the list)

Release Date July 2, 2019

On the first day of every school year, I take individual pictures of my four sons and write a short poem—well, not really poems, but brief musings on their growth, physically and intellectually, as well as what awaits them in the upcoming, exciting chapter of their young lives. My guys. The Mighty Barnes brothers. And of course, I post them on social media. They don’t see any of the posts because, in the words of my twelve-year-old, “FB is for old folks!”

By far, one of the most popular posts ever was of the youngest brother, Nnamdi, on his very first day of kindergarten. He was so excited, so pumped up, and ready for the day. Below is the actual  FB post:

August 29, 2016

Ooze with it:
Confidence, intelligence, strength and most importantly positive energy.
It’s an every day practice.
On this morning, the first day of kindergarten and 5th grade, take the world by storm.
Your names will bounce off of classroom walls, down the hallways, and elicit brilliant, beaming smiles.
Brilliant beaming smiles.

Prince Nnamdi was more than ready for the world that day.

At around age three, I purchase sight word flash cards, and a bunch of math, writing, language arts workbooks. I have my guys prepared. We build them up academically and do our best to fill them with pride of family, pride of culture and pride of self. We’re sending them out into the world to be difference makers, change agents, and they can’t become either if they’re uninformed or lack confidence in their abilities.

Plus, he was finally of age to participate in a long standing Barnes brothers ritual, a simple call-and-response. I say, “BE GREAT. BE A LEADER…”  and they respond by saying, “BE A BARNES!” It’s my hopes that this simple phrase will cause them to remember who they are, where they come from, and who they represent. Nnamdi had finally joined the ranks of one of the Mighty Barnes brothers, at school and reigning with dignity, intelligence, and a strong expectation to succeed. When I told Nnamdi that he would be the next Barnes brother featured in one of my books, the very first thing he said was, “Really!? We’re going to win a lot more awards than CROWN did!” And when I told him who’d be illustrating the project,  THEE Vanessa Newton, he really flipped out. He had just recently finished reading all four of the books in the Ruby and the Booker Boys series. Vanessa’s artwork speaks to the beauty of diversity. The various shades of colors and nationalities, the warm tones, and beautiful characters from all walks of life are the primary reasons she’s my favorite illustrator—ever. It’s a privilege and an honor to work with her again (Love you, Nessa.).

Super shout out to children’s lit visionary and mega editor, the sweet, talented and kind Nancy Paulsen and everyone at Nancy Paulsen Books and Penguin RandomHouse.




Starred review from KIRKUS REVIEWS!
“Text and visuals work together beautifully to generate excitement and confidence in children getting ready to enter kindergarten. The little king’s smiling brown face is refreshing and heartwarming.”

Starred review from PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY!

“Affirming text and energizing drawings by Brantley-Newton (Grandma’s Purse), which skillfully balance bright colors, patterns, and textures, should put a spring in the step of any reluctant kindergartner: who wouldn’t want to be thought of as “the charming, the wonderful and the kind” class sovereign?”

Booklist review!

“This will make an excellent addition to early childhood classrooms, or as a tool to help future kindergarteners understand what a typical school day can look like. Best of all, this story is free of disasters and jitters, making it an affirming choice for children in need of a confidence boost.” 


CROWN: An Ode To The Fresh Cut


My Very first Picture book, y’all!

Crown: An Ode To The Fresh Cut is actually a poem I was inspired to write after seeing an illustration from one of my illustrator buddies (shout out to Don Tate!) of his teen son after a trip to the barber. It took me back to when I was a kid, and how sitting in that barber’s chair and receiving a dope haircut was probably the only place in the Black community where boys are treated like royalty. Still are. It’s a poem about self affirmation and how the world may not see your brilliance, or your beauty, but you do, and everyone around you that loves you can definitely see it, recognize it. HUGE shout out to Denene Millner of Denene Millner Books/Agate, and my brother from another mother, the illustrator of this project, Gordon James.

Join me in congratulating Derrick for receiving the 2018 EZRA JACK KEATS AWARD/New Writer for his work in CROWN! Please click the gold award seal below to learn more about this prestigious literary award/prize. Cheers!


Educational/Discussion Guide


Congratulations to CROWN: AN ODE TO THE FRESH CUT on its FOUR awards—Newbery Honor, Caldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor!

Awards/Honors List:

A Newbery Honor Book
A Caldecott Honor Book
A Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
A Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
An Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award Book
An Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor Book
A Society of Illustrators Gold Medal Book

2018 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers

Praise for CROWN: An Ode To The Fresh Cut

Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review

Kirkus Starred Review

The Library School Journal Starred Review

The Horn Book Starred Review

Best Books of 2017- Publisher’s Weekly

NPR’s Book Concierge 2017

Publisher’s Weekly-Best Books of 2017

Denver Public Library-Best and Brightest Books of 2017

Horn Book Fanfare 2017

Huffington Post-Best Picture Books of 2017

Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Books of 2017

Boston Globe Best Children’s Books of 2017

Sacramento Public Library: Stars of 2017

Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2017

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2017

Seattle Public Library-Top 10 Picture Books of 2017

LA Times-Critics at Large Favorite Picks of 2017

“One of the best reads for young black boys in years, it should be in every library, media center, and, yes, barbershop.” – Kirkus Reviews

Published by Denene Millner Books/Agate

To order, click the book cover.

Check out superstar actor Caleb McLaughlin (Stranger Things) reading Crown on the hit Netflix series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices


We Could Be Brothers

We Could Be Brothers Discussion GuideClick for a larger image of We Could Be Brothers

Praise for We Could Be Brothers:

“We Could Be Brothers by Derrick Barnes is that rare coming-of-age story that not only takes readers on a journey of self-discovery, but it also inspires you beyond the pages of this book to talk with and listen to characters like Pacino and Robeson. These are young males we all know, mentor, love, and raise, but who we often do not see or hear. Barnes, a very gifted writer, masterfully mixes the themes of class, internalized racism, and the myths and meanings of manhood. You want solutions to the many crises affecting young Black males? Then read this book. Now!”

Kevin Powell-Activist, public speaker, author, editor of The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life

“Derrick Barnes has created a gripping portrayal of urban life, and the hard, but hopeful road boys travel to manhood.”
Coe Booth – Young Adult Author (Tyrell , Kendra)

“We Could be Brothers is a realistic look at the harsh realities facing all young black males, with life-changing lessons about the importance of family, community, respecting others and being true to yourself.”

Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D. – Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of Negro Education Howard University

“Derrick Barnes brings a fresh perspective to literature as he writes about the emotional, social, and cultural collisions of young people and the difficulties and rewards of each when they remain true to their beliefs. This is a text that young people will appreciate. “

Dr. Alfred W. Tatum– Associate Professor and Director of University of Illinois at Chicago Reading Clinic

Two thirteen- year-old African-American boys become friends during a three-day stint in an after-school suspension. They were both involved in two unrelated incidents with the same person, the resident menace at Alain Locke Middle, Tariq Molten. Robeson Battlefield is from a two-parent household, where both parents are highly successful and educated. Academic achievement, social consciousness and responsibility are reinforced daily in the Battlefield household. Pacino Clapton comes from a single parent household; his mom works two full-time jobs. Pacino has a ton of responsibilities, including cutting hair to help pay bills, and taking care of his twin five- year-old sisters. During this three-day span, the young men visit each other’s home, and chop it up on a multitude of subjects including respect of self and Black women, the dire state of hip-hop music, the use of the dreaded N word, and masculinity. Before long, the three boys are on a collision course. And when they do intersect, their lives are changed forever. We Could Brothers addresses the presence and lack of positive male leadership in the home, and how it dictates the way young African American men view themselves, each other, and the world around them. Mentorship, brotherhood, and an emphasis on that old adage each-one-teach-one; are very real and tangible themes in this middle grade literary masterpiece.

Published by Sankofa/Just Us Books

                                                     To order, click  the book cover or one of the links below:

Image result for Barnes and noble logo  Image result for just us books logoAALBC.comImage result for indiebound logoImage result for books a million logo


The Ruby and the Booker Boys Series

Meet 8-year-old ultra-fabulous Ruby Marigold Booker
Eight-year-old Ruby Booker is the baby sis of Marcellus (11), Roosevelt (10), and Tyner (9), the most popular boys on Chill Brook Ave. When Ruby isn’t hanging with her friend, Theresa Petticoat, she’s finding out what kind of mischief her brothers are getting into. She’s sweet and sassy and every bit as tough as her older siblings. She sings like nobody’s business; she has a pet iguana named Lady Love; her favorite color is grape-jelly purple; and when she grows up, she’s going to be the most famous woman animal doctor on the planet. Every exciting story is centered around Ruby trying to balance her life as an eventual pop music star, and trying to create her own “Booker shine” separate from her brothers’. She’s the fabulous, oh-so-spectacular Ruby Marigold Booker.

Shout to my sister, the SUPER talented, super beautiful Vanessa Newton, the illustrator of the series.


(Books #3 The Slumber Party Payback and #4 Ruby Flips For Attention are out of print—for now. You can click the titles and it will take you to a link where you can purchase new or slightly used copies)


 Book One:

Brand New School, Brave New Ruby

In Book 1, Ruby is leaving her old school and headed to a new one where nobody knows her — and where her older brothers rule. But that’s about to change, because Ruby Booker has BIG plans! Although things don’t go according to plan, Ruby manages to grab the spotlight when she sings a song over the P. A. system during announcements. By the time school lets out, one thing is clear: Ruby Booker isn’t “the Booker Boys’ baby sis” anymore.

Published by Scholastic

To order, click the book cover :

  Book Two: Trivia Queen,Third Grade Supreme


In Book 2, a zoologist is coming to visit Ruby’s school, and there will be one representative from grade levels 2-8 chosen to compete in an animal trivia contest. The winner will land season passes to the Chill Brook Zoo for everyone in their grade level. Ruby, who can absorb factual information quickly and recall it at any time, is the third grade delegate, and her brothers are on board to help–or hinder–her preparation.

Published by Scholastic

     To order, click the link below:

The Making of Dr. Truelove

When sexual uncertainty creeps into lovable Diego Montgomery’s love life and goofs up his brewing romance with his lifetime crush, Roxy, he contrives a scheme with his friend J-Live to win her back. Together, the two invent an online sex-pert personality for Diego, Dr. Truelove, whose cocky personality and worldly wise tips on the ins and outs of love soon raise him to celebrity status, both at school and in the community. Things slide out of control, however, when J decides to be the physical manifestation of Dr. Truelove, and his antics land both teens more notoriety and partners of the female persuasion. Barnes’s slick, Omar Tyree-like twist on the guy-tries-to-get-the-girl story is in-your-face and chock-full of sexual innuendos and situations that start on page one, and will no doubt cause many younger readers to raise an eyebrow. Still, the youthful high school humor keeps it from veering too far into Zane territory, and romance and urban-fiction fans will no doubt love the saucy comebacks, sexy language, and sheer ridiculousness that befalls Diego and J on their Cyrano-like journey to love.

Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library

This is a mature YA book (ages 16& up) about friendship, relationships, and how being in a relationship in the age of SnapChat, FB, Instagram can be complicated. There are so many things in pop culture, online and from  peers telling teens that the next step in relationships has to be physical. TMODT dispels that myth. I touch on abstinence being cool, learning more about yourself,  being in chill mode, and just how having self respect is so important right about now. So important. You’ll love it. It’s hilarious. I’m still hoping and praying that someone at either 40 Acres and A Mule or Rainforest Entertainment will call and say they want to buy the film rights. Wishful thinking, baby.

Published by Simon Pulse/Simon and Schuster

To order, click the cover or one of the links below (available only on eBook):

Image result for amazon kindleImage result for apple ibookstore Image result for barnes and noble nook logo
Image result for books a million logoImage result for google play logo transparent

Early Readers

The Low Down Bad Day Blues

I got mud on my shoes. My bike has a flat!

I got caught in the rain and I ruined my hat.

What else can go wrong today? Reading Level I (grades K-1). Includes tips for reading with a parent, plus after-reading activities! Big ups to my man, my very first illustrator collabo, Aaron Boyd.

Published by Just For You!/Scholastic (only available on eBooks)

To order, click the cover or one of the links below (available only on eBook):

Image result for amazon kindleImage result for barnes and noble nook logo




Image result for stop drop and chill derrick barnesStop, Drop and Chill

When the kids at school get on his nerves, the boy in this story keeps his cool! Find out how he does it…. Reading Level 2 (grade 1). Includes tips for reading with a parent, plus after-reading activities!

Published by Just For You!/Scholastic (only available on eBooks)

To order, click the cover or one of the links below (available only on eBook):

Image result for amazon kindleImage result for barnes and noble nook logo