Author Feature-Chris Barton


Spirit of Texas Reading Program

Middle School

Featured Author

Chris Barton

Chris Barton

Can I See Your I.D.?: True Stories of False Idenities

Chris Barton grew up in the small town of Sulphur Springs, TX. As an elementary student, he loved to write and share stories and continued to write for The Daily Texan newspaper at the University of Texas.

Inspired by his toddler son's love for his bedtime stories, Mr. Barton wrote and published his first children's book, The Day-Glo Brothers, a 2010 Sibert Honor Book that was also voted one of the best children's books of 2009 by Publisher's Weekly. Mr. Barton has since published two other titles for children: Shark Vs. Train (a NYT bestseller and 2011 Children's Choice Awards finalist) and Can I See Your ID?, currently on the Spirit of Texas--Middle School reading list. Mr. Barton currently lives in Austin, TX.

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Quiz: Are You Trustworthy?

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The more lies people tell, the less likely others are to trust them. All of the people featured in Can I See Your ID? were trusted when they were telling lies. For some, lying was necessary to saving their own lives. In everyday life, people tell lies for all kinds of reasons. Some lies are "no big deal" and have few, if any, consequences. Other lies are destructive and can have larger implications if they are caught. The question is, can people trust YOU?

For each question below, write your most LIKELY response. Do not write what you think the correct answer is; rather, write which you are most likely to do.

1. You have a big test coming up tomorrow that you have not studied for. You:

  • Copy off your friend's test.
  • Fake a stomach ache, stay home, and skip the test.
  • Stay up until midnight studying and hope for the best.
  • Take the test and know you earned whatever grade you get.

2. Last week, you were in an argument with your best friend, and she vandalized your front lawn. It was a huge mess that took your dad hours to clean on Saturday. You and your friend have since made up, but your parents suspect you know who did it. When they ask you who you think did it, you tell them that:

  • You don't know
  • You prefer not to say
  • Your best friend did it when she was mad at you.
  • It was your sister's boyfriend. You can't stand him anyway.

3. You are babysitting your neighbor's children, who fell asleep an hour ago. The parents won't be home for at least two more hours. To keep yourself busy, you:

  • Look around the parents' bedroom to see if there is anything interesting to do or see.
  • Watch TV on the couch in the living room.
  • Wash the dishes you used for the kids' dinner.
  • Logon to the mom's laptop and surf the web.

4. Someone you don't like very much tells you a very juicy piece of gossip about another person you don't like very much. She swears you to secrecy. You are most likely to tell:

  • No one at all
  • Your best friend
  • Only the person the gossip is about
  • The friends you sit with at lunch

5. Your mom tells you to take money for your lunch today from her purse. Lunch costs $2, but your mom's purse has 5 one-dollar bills. You would love to treat yourself to cookies at lunch, too. You are most likely to:

  • Take $3 from her purse. Cookies only cost 50 cents, and you'll have enough left over to buy chips, too!
  • Take $5 so you don't have to ask for lunch and cookie money again tomorrow.
  • Take $5 so you can buy lunch and extra cookies for yourself and several friends.
  • Take $2 and ask if you can have an extra dollar for cookies.

6. You got in trouble for not answering your cell phone last weekend when you were roller blading with your friends. You really were roller blading and just didn't hear the phone, but your parents freaked out anyway and took your phone away for two weeks. This morning, your parents have already left for work, and your phone is sitting in your dad's nightstand. You get home from school before your parents, so they'll never know if you take it for the day. You:

  • Take the phone and put it back in the nightstand as soon as you get home.
  • Leave the phone in the nightstand. You don't want to make things with your parents worse.
  • Check the phone for messages, send a few texts, then put it back in the nightstand.
  • Take the phone with you and decide you'll hide it from them when you get home. Your parents should not have left it out where you could get to it so easily.

7. Your parents asked you to walk the dog when you got home today. You:

  • Take the dog on a long walk so you can both get some fresh air and exercise.
  • Let the dog run around the back yard. You've been at school all day and are pooped.
  • Walk the dog to the mailbox and back. Judge Judy's coming on!
  • Let the dog out the front door. He'll come back on his own.

8. You find a note on the floor at school. It has someone else's name on the outside fold. You:

  • Open the letter and read it.
  • Don't read it and deliver it to the person whose name is on the front.
  • Throw it in the trash.
  • Leave it on the floor. It's none of your business.

9. While chasing your little cousin around the house, you break a vase in your aunt's bedroom. No one but you knows what happened. You are most likely to:

  • Tell your aunt that you broke the vase and that you are sorry.
  • Convince your little cousin that he did it, that it was an accident, and that he needs to tell his mom.
  • Leave the broken vase on the floor and pretend nothing happened.
  • Tell your mom you saw a broken vase in your aunt's room.

10. Last night, your mom made a delicious cake for dessert. Your little sister fell asleep before she got to eat her cake, so your mom put it in the refrigerator for her to eat later. You are starving when you get home from school, and that cake just looks so yummy. Your sister won't be home for another hour. You:

  • Eat all of the cake. If she doesn't see it, she probably won't remember it was there.
  • Eat just a few bites and leave the rest for your sister. She'll never notice a few missing bites.
  • Eat half of the cake and hope she doesn't notice.
  • Leave the cake for your sister and find something else to eat.


Give yourself the following points for the answers you chose:

  1. A=0 B=1 C=3 D=3
  2. A=1 B=2 C=3 D=0
  3. A=0 B=3 C=3 D=0
  4. A=3 B=0 C=1 D=0
  5. A=0 B=0 C=0 D=3
  6. A=0 B=3 C=1 D=0
  7. A=3 B=2 C=1 D=0
  8. A=0 B=3 C=2 D=1
  9. A=0 B=1 C=3 D=3
  10. A=0 B=1 C=3 D=3

0-15 points—Untrustworthy! Your parents question your every move for a reason. Whether you copy someone else's work, blab your friends' secrets, or fail to complete your chores, you are the only person who can change your behavior. When people can trust you, doors will open for a more successful, happy life. You might want to take time to think hard about ways you can become more trustworthy. Speaking the truth (no matter the consequences), following through on promises, and learning to trust others are all ways you can increase your trustworthiness.

16-23 points—Somewhat trustworthy—Some people trust you, and some people do not. When you look over your answers to this quiz, think about the answers and the points-values they received. How do the 3-point answers make you more trustworthy and the zero-point answers make you less trustworthy? How can you become more responsible, reliable, and honest in your everyday life?

24-30 points—Trustworthy! You are to be commended for your honesty and reliability. People trust you to do the right thing, and most of the time, you follow through on that. Being trustworthy and reliable all the time is not always easy, so kudos to you making good choices!

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Book Quiz

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In 1993, 16-year old Keron Thomas stole the New York City Subway's A Train in the name of Regoberto Sabio, a Subway train operator. Where was Mr. Sabio when Keron Thomas stole his train?

  • In the hospital
  • In the bathroom
  • On vacation
  • At home with the flu

According to the story of Ferdinand Waldo Demara, Jr., why does Mr. Demara assume several false identities?

  • Demara is a wanted criminal.
  • It doesn't pay to do things the "right" way.
  • Demara is in the U.S. illegally and cannot use his real identity.
  • It is impossible to make a good living with only a high school education.

Sarah Rosetta Wakeman was ________________ during the Civil War.

  • A female posing as a male soldier
  • A former soldier posing as a decorated army general
  • An escaped slave posing as a wealthy white woman
  • A teenage boy posing as a little girl

Solomon Perel, posing as Hitler Youth Josef Perjell, requested a vacation to Lodz in order to find _______.

  • His parents
  • His girlfriend
  • His brothers and sister
  • The real Josef Perjell

In reality, Forrest Carter, author of the bestselling book The Education of Little Tree, was a prominent member of which racist organization?

  • Aryan Nation
  • Neo-Nazis
  • Ku Klux Klan
  • National Alliance

What language did Princess Caraboo speak?

  • Latin
  • Pali
  • Sanscrit
  • A completely made up language

When she and her husband attempted to escape slavery, Ellen Craft dressed as a white southern gentleman with his arm in a sling. Why was the sling important?

  • The sling hid a dagger, money, and fake identification.
  • The sling meant Ellen did not have to write anything.
  • The sling explained why Ellen always had a slave to attend her.
  • The sling made people feel sorry for Ellen so they would not ask too many questions.

John Howard Griffin was a white man who pretended to be a black man during the Civil Rights era in the United States. How did he darken his skin?

  • He took pills that made his skin darker.
  • He soaked in a bath of permathol, iodide, and table salt.
  • He injected melanin into his stomach every day.
  • He used an experimental movie makeup.

Why did Riley Weston pretend to be 18-years old when she was really in her 30s?

  • She was dating Brad Sexton, a young actor who was 10 years younger than she was.
  • She was trying to get roles writing and acting on a TV show aimed at teens.
  • Entertainment Tonight reported that she was 18, and she did not deny it.
  • Her only fake ID said she was 18.

What physical feature helped 16-year old runaway and con-artist Frank Abnagale fool so many people into thinking he was much older?

  • Thick mustache
  • Prematurely gray hair
  • Full jowls
  • Wrinkled skin


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Academic Programs


Program 1 - Imposters, Posers, and Fake IDs: Hoaxes Throughout History


To practice research skills and introduce students to famous hoaxes throughout history.

Program Related Books to Display and Book Talk

  • Barnhill, Kelly Regan. Bizarre, Creepy Hoaxes. Capstone Press, 2009.
  • Coghill, Judy. The Ten Most Outrageous Hoaxes. Franklin Watts, 2007.
  • Cunningham, Darryl. How to Fake a Moon Landing: Lies, Hoaxes, Scams, and Other Science Tales. Abrams, 2013.
  • Herbst, Judith. Hoaxes. Lerner Publications, 2005.
  • Pascoe, Elaine. Fooled You! Fakes and Hoaxes Through the Years. Henry Holt, 2005.
  • Roberts, David. Great Exploration Hoaxes. Modern Library, 2001.
  • Shea, Therese. Avoiding Online Hoaxes. Gareth Stevens, 2013.
  • Sifakis, Carl. The Big Book of Hoaxes. Paradox Press, 1996.


  • 110.18-20 (7) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Literary Nonfiction.
  • 110.18-20 (10) Reading/Comprehension of Informational Text/Expository Text.
  • 110.18-20 (22) Research/Research Plan.
  • 110.18-20 (27) Listening and Speaking/Speaking.
  • 110.18-20 (28) Listening and Speaking/Teamwork.

List of Supplies

  • Computers, biographies, encyclopedias, databases, and other items for research
  • Pens/pencils/paper for taking notes
  • poster board or butcher paper, art supplies (crayons, markers, rulers, colored pencils, scissors, glue, etc.)

Detailed Description of the Program

  • Pre-teaching—students should be familiar with some of the stories in Can I See Your ID? and the idea that people sometimes lie about their identities for various reasons.
  • In pairs, students use research materials and the books listed above to select and "become experts on" one person who assumed a fake identity.
  • The partners will create a WANTED poster and present their imposter to the class.
  • Each presentation should emphasize HOW that person got away with it. Were there people who questioned them? Who could have stopped them? Should they have been stopped? Was anyone hurt (or saved) because of their lies?


Hang the WANTED posters in the hallway. Students can vote for their favorites. Winning team members get to become "imposters" by switching class schedules with their partner for one day (get permission from grade level teachers and school administration prior to beginning this project).


Famous WANTED Posters —Use this site to show students different WANTED poster designs and what information is typically included.

Program 2 - Writing in First, Second, and Third Person Perspective



To differentiate between first, second, and third person point of view; to recreate part of a picture book in a different point of view from the original. 

Program Related Books to Display/Book Talk 

Honesty-themed books 

  • Barnholdt, Lauren. Devon Delaney Should Totally Know Better. Aladdin Mix, 2009.
  • Barnholdt, Lauren. The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney. Aladdin, 2007.
  • Cabot, Meg. Glitter Girls and the Great Fake Out. Scholastic, 2010.
  • Demi. The Empty Pot. Henry Holt, 1990.
  • Leaf, Munro. How to Behave and Why. Universe, 1946.
  • Lichtman, Wendy. Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra. Greenwillow Books, 2007.
  • Reinhardt, Dana. Harmless. Wendy Lamb Books, 2007.
  • Schooley, Bob and Mark McCorkle. Liar of Kudzu. Aladdin, 2007.
  • Springer, Kristina. My Fake Boyfriend Is Better than Yours. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2010. 

Second person perspective is more difficult to find: 

  • Choose Your Own Adventure series. Chooseco. (various authors and publication dates)
  • Interactive History Adventures series. Capstone. (various authors and publication dates)
  • Klass, David. You Don't Know Me. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001. 


  • 110.19. (6) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Fiction.
  • 110.25. (b) English Language Arts and Reading
  • 110.17. Implementation of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for English Language Arts and Reading, Middle School


List of Supplies 

  • Paper, pencils/pens
  • Any engaging picture book 

Detailed Description of the Program 

  • Pre-teaching--Students should know the difference between first, second, and third person narrative.
  • Students will listen actively as the teacher reads aloud from the selected picture book.
  • In pairs, students will choose a section of the story to rewrite in their own words, each using a different narrative style from the story. For example, if the story was written in first person, one student will rewrite a section in second person, and the other partner will rewrite it in third person.
  • Variation: Allow students to choose their own picture book to rewrite.
  • Group discussion--Is there a point of view that works better for certain books? Do you have a preference for one over the others? Why do you think the author chose to narrate the book in the way he/she did? 


Picture Books (fairy tales would work especially well since most students are familiar)


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Identity Theft and Online Safety

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Can You Protect Your I.D.? Identity Theft and Online Safety for Teens

Teens are not insusceptible to identity theft. Anyone with a social security number is at risk. In fact, social security numbers of young people with no credit history are highly sought after by identity thieves. This speaker program is designed to educate young people (and their parents) on the importance of identity protection and internet safety.

Program Related Books to Display

  • Brown, Anne K., Virtual Danger: staying safe online. Compass Point Books, 2010.
  • Golden, Robert N., The Truth About Internet and Online Predators. Facts on File, 2011.
  • Shea, Therese. Avoiding Online Hoaxes. Gareth Stevens. 2013.
  • Vacca, John. Identity Theft. Chelsea House, 2012.
  • Wilson, Michael R. Frequently Asked Questions About Identity Theft. Rosen, 2007.

Detailed Description of Program

Invite someone from your local police department's crime prevention unit or an Identity Theft expert to speak about the importance of safeguarding personal information and protecting your identity on the internet.


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To Tell The Truth

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Additional Documents

To Tell the Truth Game Show


Chris Barton's Can I See Your I.D? tells the stories of ten imposters; people who were able to mislead others into believing they were someone other than who they really were. This program mimics the old television game show To Tell the Truth in which players attempt to correctly identify one of three contestants who has an unusual occupation or has had an unusual experience.

Program Related Books to Display

Any of the books on the Can I See Your I.D.? read-alike list can be displayed as well as books on classic television game shows.


  • Tables and chairs
  • Voting cards and pens.
  • The room could be decorated like the set of a game show with signage, rope lighting, and microphones.

Game Play

The game begins with three players chosen as the challenging contestants. The remaining players serve as the question askers. Based on the number of remaining players available, the question askers can work together as a group, be divided into teams to compete against the other teams, or a group of players (up to four) can be selected to act as the panel with the remaining players making up the audience. One person (librarian) should act as the host. The host and three challengers retreat to a private area and have a set time period to discuss their individual unusual hobbies, experiences, jobs, or what have you and then determine which of the three challengers and their unique experience will be used as the central character. The other two challengers will be imposters of the central character.

The host begins the round by providing a description of the central character and their unusual occupation or experience to the group. The question askers are given a set period of time to ask all three challengers questions, addressing each challenger as "Number One", Number Two", or "Number Three". The imposters must lie to portray themselves appropriately but the central character must provide truthful responses. At the end of the questioning round, the question askers vote for which challenger they believe is the real central character. After the votes are cast, the Host asks the real central character to stand up. Points are awarded to the challengers based on the number of incorrect votes the imposters receive.


Prizes can be given to participants at your discretion.


Video clips from To Tell the Truth episodes

Frank Abagnale appearance

Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin appearance

Rosa Parks appearance

Bette Davis appearance



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Created on Nov 28, 2012 | Last updated July 15, 2015