Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Barbara Binns  

Pen Name: B.A. Binns

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult; Young Adult;

Born: 1950 in Chicago, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Binns grew up on the south side of Chicago, and currently lives in a suburb of Chicago. She received a B. S. from Roosevelt University and an M. S. from DePaul.

Biographical and Professional Information

Barbara Binns has worked at everything from fast food to clinical chemistry to dietician to computer architect, but always kept kept finding excuses to return to school. She finally became a trainer and after she retired took up volunteering and writing. She frequently contributes to the Almanac of Arlington Heights, a quarterly publication in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Her debut middle grade novel is "Courage." She speaks to students, teachers, and librarians across the country at conferences and other events.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

ISBN: 1934813435

WestSide Books. 2010

High school senior David Albacore is dealing with major upheaval after his father murders his mom. In the terrible aftermath, he changes his name and moves to a tough new inner-city Chicago high school with his younger sister Barney, when they and their now silent younger sister, Linda, move in with their aunt. David blames himself for not saving their mom that night after being injured in a basketball game in which he was the star, David was given strong painkillers, which caused him to sleep through the shooting. Barney, who found their mom's body, is fragile after a hospital stay and is barely able to cope. With their mother gone and their father in jail, David tries to take care of his sisters as they grieve and adjust to a different kind of life. When he's forced to join the basketball team or be expelled after getting in too many fights, it cuts into his after-school construction job that he takes to help his aunt support his family. Then David begins falling for Yolanda, the hottest girl in school and Perry, the school player and bully's girlfriend. They flirt and spar, but going after this fashion loving Mighty Mite spells big trouble for David. And as he ponders trying for a basketball scholarship or keeping the construction job he loves, Aunt Edie's stroke eliminates most of David's options. He can keep his family together by working construction full time, or follow his mom's dream of college, which would probably send Barney into foster care. Teen readers will hold their breath as David weighs his options about the kind of life he wants to live.

Die Trying
ISBN: 098818219X

AllTheColorsOfLove. 2012

Fourteen stories for adults and young adults, showing the sometimes humorous, and sometimes tragic facts of life. Includes:

WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE ME? A generation gap story about a woman designated by her family to talk Grandfather into leaving the past behind and moving into assisted living. In the process she learns that the past can hold unexpected value.

ABOMINATION Life is good for sixteen year old Neill Mallory, until the day his boyfriend dumps him. Maybe they do love each other, but Carl’s parents have prayed over him, and he can’t fight people invoking the God thing and calling him an abomination.

FATHERS and SONS The age-old epic battle between a fourteen-year-old boy and his father as they play the “my way or the highway” game and then wait to see who blinks.

BEGGAR BOY She’s African-American from Indiana. He’s Iranian-African from Illinois. They meet in Jamaica, brought together by a boy too proud to beg and too ashamed to admit a painful past.

DIE TRYING Juvon spent years with only one goal, the 2012 Olympics, preparing to bring medals home to his parents. A diagnosis of terminal cancer strips him of his chances. Experimental treatments are failing. He makes the decision to take his future into his own hands.

Being God (Farrington Tales)
ISBN: 0988182114

AllTheColorsOfLove. 2013

Seventeen-year-old Malik Kaplan is the bully of Chicago’s Farrington High School. Malik has a cross to bear, or maybe it’s a Star of David being the black teenaged son of a Catholic mother and Jewish father frequently makes life confusing. His grandfather, uncle, and older brother all ruled as the BAMFs at Farrington. Only his father is a “forgotten Kaplan,” and seems disinterested in his only surviving son. Malik is determined to be the worst of the worst and not repeat his father’s mistakes even if that costs him the people he cares about. At least he can drink. Alcohol keeps him going alcohol is destroying his life. But he doesn’t see any problem, not even after he finds himself in court, shouldering the blame for someone else’s crime. Suddenly he’s faced with court-ordered community service shepherding an angry ten-year-old who hates the world, an “offer he can’t refuse” from the boy’s gang leader brother, and an opponent he can’t crush: Barney, a fourteen-year-old girl who watched her alcoholic father abuse and murder her mother. She wants nothing to do with any bad boy, especially not one who thinks drinking is the way to forget his sins. Malik and Barney are forced to work together to help the kid and themselves escape the pull of the gang, and to rediscover the real meaning of family and friendship.

Minority Of One (Farrington Tales) (Volume 3)
ISBN: 0988182122

AllTheColorsOfLove. 2014

Sheila Benderton: Young, White, former poor little rich girl, now just poor. She’ starting a new life in an inner city high school that is only 8% white school. She also faces life with a mother she barely knows. Her father blamed her mother’s repeated infidelities for everything that went wrong in their family, including his recent suicide. After that, Sheila will never let herself fall under the spell of a guy like Julian Morales, the Hispanic superjock playboy.

Neill Mallory: Young, Black, Gay. His future has been set in stone by a loving family, whether he wants it or not. He’s a walking statistic struggling with the loss of the perfect boyfriend. Carl Redkin gave in to pressure from his parents and dumped Neill in an attempt to go “straight.” Neill hates being alone and wants to replace Carl with someone just like him someone smart, artistic, caring—why kid himself, there is no one like Carl.

Neill and Sheila seem to have nothing in common except the French class her mother teaches. But invisible ties draw the two outliers together. Maybe it’s the way Neill tries to protect Sheila from Julian’s magnetism. Or the way Sheila fights to get Carl’s family to let him be the man he wants to be. Neill and Sheila try everything to make life happy, including each other. But what they really need is Carl and Julian.

Minority of One is a story for anyone who knows what it’s like to be friendless and alone, the only one of their kind. It’s for everyone who ever found someone special--not a soulmate, but someone willing to go to the mat to help uncover the truth about themselves and their place in the world. Most of all, it’s two romances for the price of one, as both Neill and Sheila travel their separate, but intercepting, paths to happiness.

ISBN: 0062561650

HarperCollins. 2018

For fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander, a poignant and timely novel about race, class, and second chances.

Ever since T’Shawn’s dad died, his mother has been struggling to keep the family afloat. So when he’s offered a spot on a prestigious diving team at the local private swim club, he knows that joining would only add another bill to the pile.

But T studies hard and never gets into trouble, so he thinks his mom might be willing to bear the cost… until he finds out that his older brother, Lamont, is getting released early from prison.

Luckily, T’Shawn is given a scholarship, and he can put all his frustration into diving practices. But when criminal activity increases in the neighborhood and people begin to suspect Lamont, T’Shawn begins to worry that maybe his brother hasn’t left his criminal past behind after all.

And he struggles to hold on to the hope that they can put the broken pieces of their damaged relationship back together.


  • National Readers Choice Award, ''Pull''

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    Barbara is available for school, library and other visits on request