January Book Recommendations

On Monday, January 16, we will honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his role as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Here are a few books to read with children of all ages to convey Dr. King’s powerful message.

The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. : A Biography Book for New Readers by Christine A. Platt (Ages 6-8)  

Before he made history with his powerful speeches and peaceful protests, Martin was a dedicated, smart kid who loved to learn. He challenged racism and overcame hardships to follow his passion and do the right thing. Explore how Martin went from being a kid with a dream to an outstanding leader who made America a better place for everyone

Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford (Grades K-3) 

Most young people recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, but few can actually explain why Dr. King’s dream applies to them. The message is simple: be honest, keep learning, act on your individual conscience.

My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King (Grades K-3) 
“There have been a lot of books written about my father. But not a whole lot has been written about my dad,” explains Martin Luther King III. In this book, King remembers his father with affection and pride. Called Marty as a child, Martin Luther King III spent his childhood learning difficult lessons about segregation, jail and protest marches. But just as importantly, Dr. King was a loving and playful father to his children.

When Martin Luther King Jr. Wore Roller Skates (Grades 1- 4) 
Martin Luther King Jr. led the American Civil Rights Movement. But do you know what he was like as a child? From roller skating to playing football and basketball, Martin was a fun-loving child. This story will help young readers connect with a historic figure and will inspire them to want to achieve greatness.

Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs (As Told by His Niece) by Angela Farris Watkins (Grades 2-6)

In this beautifully  illustrated picture book, Watkins, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., provides a simplified version of his six guiding principles of nonviolence: have courage; love your enemies; fight the problem, not the person who caused it; when innocent people are hurt, others are inspired to help; resist violence of any kind; and the universe honors love. Referring to King as “Uncle Martin,” Watkins states each principle and then describes one clearly written example of how King followed it.

Riding to Washington by Gwenyth Swain (Grades K-3) 
Traveling by bus with her dad to Washington, D.C., in August 1963, a young girl from an all-white neighborhood isn’t sure what awaits her. But on the journey, she encounters discrimination when restaurants refuse to serve mixed crowds, and she’s made aware of a No Coloreds sign at a gas-station restroom, which she helps a passenger challenge. Then, as part of the huge gathering in Washington, she hears a speech by Dr. King, and she understands that the dream he speaks of belongs to everyone.

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton (Grades 2-4)
The daughter of civil rights leader Andrew Young remembers her family’s active role in the civil rights movement, beginning when she was four years old.  She describes how she and her family moved from New York to Atlanta, Georgia, to join the struggle and how Dr. King and other leaders became a warm personal presence in her home.

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: the Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan (Grades 3-6) 

The 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike is not often covered in picture books, despite its being Dr. King’s final march before his assassination. Basing her story on the true accounts of Dr. Almella Starks-Umoja, Duncan creates 9-year-old Lorraine Jackson to tell the full story of the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968.

Martin’s Dream (Ana & Andrew Series) by Christine A. Platt (Grades PK-3) 
For Black History Month, Ana & Andrew join a research group at the community center. They learn many interesting things about Martin Luther King Jr.and later, they make one of Martin’s famous dreams come true!

Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round: My Story of the Making of Martin Luther King Day by Kathlyn J. Kirkwood (Grades 3-7) 
Kirkwood’s memoir, told in verse, describes her involvement in the civil rights movement, especially her efforts to establish Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday. The poems are accompanied by black-and-white photos, memorabilia and illustrations, and focus on the period between King’s death and the adoption of MLK Day as a federal holiday (1968–83).

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