The Reading Culture Welcomes Derrick Barnes

Derrick Barnes Author
Masthead Waves

Derrick Barnes’ introduction to storytelling was through the jazz and R&B records he found in his family’s collection. For young Derrick, reading the liner notes in albums was just as important as any other kind of reading. Eventually, artists like Roberta Flack, Rakim, and John Coltrane taught him about the power of simply and truly being yourself. Inspired, young Derrick began writing his own poetry and short stories, which began a long and fruitful writing career. A career that includes being the first black creative copywriter for Hallmark cards.


In his work as an author, Derrick embodies the authenticity of his idols, uncompromising in his goal to tell an array of black stories for black kids. Although already an established writer, Derrick’s breakthrough picture book, "Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut" brought him national attention and accolades such as the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, a Newbery Honor, and the Coretta Scott King Award. More recently, he earned a National Book Award honor for the graphic novel “Victory Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice.” And in case you haven’t read it yet, definitely check out his recent bestselling picture book, “Like Lava in My Veins!”


In this refreshing episode, Derrick tells the story of how music inspired him to write, shares which artist made him feel naughty (in a good way), and ponders his role as a self-proclaimed freedom fighter. Derrick speaks candidly and shares elements of his story that I hadn’t heard while preparing for our interview. 


For his reading challenge, Resistance and Resilience, Derrick challenges us to read a list of books that tell the fascinating real-life stories of freedom fighters, especially some that aren't as well-known. 


This week’s Beanstack Featured Librarian is Connie Sharp, the Librarian Training and Development Specialist at Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). She shares how MNPS utilizes Beanstack with community partnerships (including a local university) to encourage students to read.


Listen to the full episode, “The Blackest Book Ever: Derrick Barnes on Writing Unapologetically,”  on Apple, Spotify, Podbean, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts. Like what you hear? Please leave a 5-star review, subscribe, and share with someone who will enjoy it!


Follow the podcast on Instagram @thereadingculturepod to see reels of our guests, and subscribe to our newsletter to gain access to bonus content, read more intimate background stories, and learn about upcoming giveaways! #readingculturefam


Keep reading!




Keep up with the latest news and updates from Beanstack