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Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.?

MLK Books: Who was Martin Luther King?

The Children’s Book Review | January 9, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. Books for Kids

If you’re looking for books about the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the superb titles listed below, offer a gateway into discovering and learning about MLK and his important message of nonviolence and his incredible contributions to American history. From picture-book biographies to the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, this is a solid representation of the many MLK books available for young readers.

I Have a DreamI Have a Dream

By Martin Luther King, Jr.; Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Publisher’s Synopsis: From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King: “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing “I Have a Dream” speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.”

On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation’s history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson’s magnificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike. The themes of equality and freedom for all are not only relevant today, 50 years later, but also provide young readers with an important introduction to our nation’s past. Included with the book is an audio CD of the speech.

Ages 5-99 | Publisher: Schwartz & Wade | Oct. 9, 2012 | ISBN: 978-0375858871

Martins-Big-WordsMartin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Doreen Rappaport

Publisher’s Synopsis: This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life. With stunning art by acclaimed illustrator Bryan Collier, Martin’s Big Words is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America-and the world-forever.

Ages 5-9 | Publisher: Hyperion Books | December 18, 2007 | ISBN: 978-1423106357

AsGoodAsAnybodyAs Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom

By Richard Michelson; Illustrated by Raul Colón

Publisher’s Synopsis: MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel. Their names stand for the quest for justice and equality. Martin grew up in a loving family in the American South, at a time when this country was plagued by racial discrimination. He aimed to put a stop to it. He became a minister like his daddy, and he preached and marched for his cause. Abraham grew up in a loving family many years earlier, in a Europe that did not welcome Jews. He found a new home in America, where he became a respected rabbi like his father, carrying a message of peace and acceptance. Here is the story of two icons for social justice, how they formed a remarkable friendship and turned their personal experiences of discrimination into a message of love and equality for all.

Ages 6-10 | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | May 13, 2008 | ISBN: 978-037583335

My-Uncle-Martins-Words-For-AmericaMy Uncle Martin’s Words for America

By Angela Farris Watkins; Illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Publisher’s Synopsis: In this inspirational story about Martin Luther King Jr.—told from the perspective of his niece Angela Farris Watkins—readers learn how King used his message of love and peace to effectively fight for African Americans’ civil rights.

Focusing on important words and phrases from his speeches, such as justicefreedom, and equality, Watkins uses King’s language to expose young readers to important events during the civil rights era. The simple yet striking text, along with a timeline and glossary, makes this book an accessible tool for helping a young audience learn about the importance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of nonviolence and his contributions to American history.

Ages 5-9 | Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers | Sept. 1, 2011 | ISBN: 1419700227

Who-Was-Martin-Luther-King-JrWho Was Martin Luther King, Jr.?

By Bonnie Bader; Illustrated by Nancy Harrison

Publisher’s Synopsis: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 25 when he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was soon organizing black people across the country in support of the right to vote, desegregation, and other basic civil rights. Maintaining nonviolent and peaceful tactics even when his life was threatened, King was also an advocate for the poor and spoke out against racial and economic injustice until his death?from an assassin?s bullet?in 1968. With clearly written text that explains this tumultuous time in history and 80 black-and-white illustrations, this Who Was?? celebrates the vision and the legacy of a remarkable man.

Ages 7-11 | Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap | Dec. 27, 2007 | ISBN: 978-0448447230

March-OnMarch On!: The Day My Brother Changed the World

By Christine King Farris; Illustrated by London Ladd

Publisher’ Synopsis: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, sister remembers the March on Washington.

From Dr. Martin Luther King’s sister, the definitive tribute to the man, the march, and the speech that changed a nation.

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Scholastic | Aug. 1, 2008 | ISBN: 978-0545035378

The-Story-Of-Martin-Luther-KingThe Story of Martin Luther King, Jr

By Johnny Ray Moore; Illustrated by Amy Wummer

Publisher’ Synopsis: This title is suitable for toddlers and ages upwards. Even toddlers will immediately relate to King since the story begins with the child Martin, how he liked school, how he always did more than we required, and how his school playground was run down. The story also show how Martin and his parents could not eat anywhere they chose, how his school was not as nice as the white school, and how he had to drink from a separate water fountain. The child will see King giving his I have a dream speech in Washington, and learn that, now, because of King’s dream, we all have the chance to eat where we choose, drink out of any water fountain, and go to any school.

Ages 2 and up | Publisher: Candy Cane Pr | Jan. 2002 | ISBN: 978-0824941444

A-Picture-Book-Of-Martin-Luther-King-JrA Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.

By David A. Adler; Illustrated by Robert Casilla

Publisher’ Synopsis: A brief, illustrated, biography of the Baptist minister and civil rights leader whose philosophy and practice of nonviolent civil disobedience helped American blacks win many battles for equal rights.

Ages 6 and up | Publisher: Holiday House | Aug. 1, 1990 | ISBN: 978-0823408474

111037My Dream of Martin Luther King

By Faith Ringgold

Publisher’ Synopsis: Now in Dragonfly–from the acclaimed creator of the Caldecott Honor Book Tar Beach comes a personal and captivating portrait of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ages 6-9 | Publisher: Dragonfly Books | Dec. 7, 1998 | ISBN:  978-0517885772

Martin-Luther-King-Jr-DayMartin Luther King Jr. Day

By Margaret McNamara; Illustrated by Mike Gordon

Publisher’s Synopsis: When Mrs. Conner’s class learns about a great man, they discover their own dreams and hopes for a better world!

Ages 4-6 | Publisher: Simon Spotlight | Dec. 26, 2007 | ISBN: 978-1416934943

Do you have a favorite book about Martin Luther King, Jr.? Tell us about it in the comments.

Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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