If you thought that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is just another day off from school, then you’re missing out on a major opportunity to teach your child about civil rights, race-related issues, and equality for everyone. Celebrated on January 16 each year, the federal holiday marks the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the voice of the Civil Rights Movement. While you can celebrate the holiday by performing acts of service to help those in need, you might also want to take the time to learn about this iconic figure in U.S. history, too. And these are the best Martin Luther King Jr. Day books to help your child understand the importance of Dr. King — and perhaps ignite some passion to become a doer of good, too.
When Martin Luther King Jr. Wore Roller Skates
You might often associate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a civil rights leader. But what about what he liked to do as a kid? In the book, When Martin Luther King Jr. Wore Roller Skates by Mark Andrew Weakland, young readers will get to discover what a fun-loving child King was, including playing football and roller skating. The book can help kids connect to the activist, even at an early age.
I Have A Dream
Although Dr. King gave thousands of speeches during his lifetime, his “I have a dream” speech might be the most iconic. And while your child might be able to recite a portion (or all) of the speech, it can come to life once again in the I Have A Dream book, thanks to the illustrations from Kadir Nelson. The themes of equality and freedom — paired with Nelson’s paintings — make this a book to pass down through the generations.
Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You
It’s not enough to simply be inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s words — it’s time to live by them as well. That’s the goal of Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You. Written by Carole Boston Weatherford, readers are encouraged to be a King, too, by stamping out hatred, walking tall, beating the drum for justice, and marching to their own conscience. In that way, anyone can be a King, too.
My Little Golden Book About Martin Luther King, Jr.
Perfect for preschoolers, My Little Golden Book About Martin Luther King, Jr. illustrates that it’s never too early to become a young activist. The book, written by Bonnie Bader, is a great introduction to children about the civil rights leader. From learning about his life living in the segregated South to his own father’s church, kids can become acquainted with the importance of Dr. King and perhaps even see how they can help change the world as well.
Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round
In the inspiring book, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round, author Kathlyn J. Kirkwood takes readers on an incredible journey of one young girl’s evolution into activism. It speaks of how, as a child, Kirkwood was always drawn to activism and would attend protests. Eventually, her passion helped in the fight to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday become a national holiday.
My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This is one of the most popular quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. And in the fascinating picture book memoir, My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King III, King’s own son offers a more intimate portrait of the civil rights leader, and the incredible bond he had with his father.
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The picture book, Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., beautifully brings the activist’s message to young readers. Author Doreen Rappaport takes King’s life as a young child and intersperses memorable quotes from his speeches to tell the story of his life in a poignant and positive way that emerging readers will be able to relate to.
Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.?
As part of the Who Was? series, the Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? offers insight into the man who would become known as the voice of the Civil Rights Movement. The book follows his life from non-violent, peaceful protesting to working with U.S. presidents and how he was determined to bring about equality for all. Ideal for elementary school aged readers, the book is full of interesting facts, such as understanding the impact that Mahatma Gandhi, an Indian spiritual leader had on King’s own style of civil leadership.