Chidren’s Books About Martin Luther King Jr.

Weekly Trip to the Library

On Monday Americans honor the great civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of service. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a United States holiday marking the birth date of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., observed on the third Monday of January each year, around the time of King’s birthday, January 15.

Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights nonviolent activism movement of the 1960’s. At the age of 35, Martin Luther King Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of over $54,000 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. He was assassinated in April 4, 1968.

Here are some books to use with children to learn more about the nonviolent civil activist:

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. By Doreen Rappaport

This picture-book introduces Martin Luther King Jr. to young children. It uses quotes from King’s writing and speeches from King’s life, beginning with his childhood experience of seeing “White Only” signs sprinkled throughout his hometown. He questions his mother about their meaning, and she assures him, “You are as good as anyone.” Listening to his father preach, the boy asserts that “When I grow up, I’m going to get big words, too.”

The author also discusses King’s role in the Montgomery bus strike that followed Rosa Park’s 1955 arrest for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger and his subsequent efforts as a civil rights crusader. After briefly describing the circumstances of his death, the story concludes, quite abruptly, with the statement, “His big words are alive for us today.”

The author relies on Martin Luther King’s own words to show his power, passion, and pacifism. Watercolor and cut paper collage art feature closely focused, lifelike images of King and other individuals against an inventive montage of patterns and textures. The portraits of the civil rights activist exude his spiritual strength and peaceful visage.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Apostle of Militant Nonviolence By James A. Colaiaco

This short book for older children discusses all the main issues and themes of the life of King. The author traces the course of events from the emergence of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national black spokesman during the Montgomery bus boycott to his radical critique of American society and foreign policy during the last years of his life. He also provides the first in-depth analysis of King’s famous Letter from Birmingham Jail – a manifesto of the American civil rights movement and an eloquent defence of non-violent protest.

A Kid’s Guide to African American History: More than 70 Activities (A Kid’s Guide series)By Nancy I. Sanders
Reveiw by Carolyn Phelan

This large-format paperback introduces many aspects of African American history, from Africa to colonial America, from plantations, to emancipation. There is also information about the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, the achievements of black Americans, the civil rights movement, and hopes for the future. Throughout the book, crafts and other projects offer nannies, parents, and teachers practical ways to involve children in African American heritage.

Included are activities such as making a bead necklace, constructing a star-watching chart, and various recipes and crafts that revolve around the symbols of Kwanzaa. The pages are well designed, with illustrations in shades of gray and plenty of white space.

Click on the titles of the books above to purchase your own copy of the books we have reviewed.

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