Whether I am seeking answers to a problem, searching for a bit of an escape, or looking for inspiration, one thing is for sure: I'm bound to flip the pages of a book for a solution. Books, it turns out, are magical (if you haven't discovered this yet, then hop to it) and have a way of showing us the way even when we least expect it. And when it comes to history, cracking the spine of a book can lead us to understanding and perspective — something each of these children's books about Martin Luther King Jr. offer both little and big kids alike.
Rare is the roundup I put together that gives me an urge to head out and buy each item on the list, but this one defies the odds. We already have Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream and You and Let the Children March on our shelves, but you can rest assured the other 14 titles on this list will be making their way to our home as well.
Because why wouldn't we give our children as many resources as possible to learn about one of the most prolific people in our history? I can't see a reason not to and it's not just because I am a bibliophile. It's because on the anniversary of Dr. King's death — and every day — it's the smallest of ways to say thank you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dr. King.
1'The Story Of Martin Luther King Jr.' by Johnny Ray Moore
This board book, The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. ($7, Amazon), tells the story in an easy-to-read way that makes it simple for even your littlest ones to understand. Beginning with King's childhood, the book outlines how the civil rights leader "excelled in school, became a minister, and worked to end segregation in America," according to Amazon. With only about 200 words, this book is a great beginner guide to teaching children about King's legacy.
2'A Sweet Smell Of Roses' by Angela Johnson
3'Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs' by Angela Farris Watkins
In Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs ($15, Amazon), Dr. Angela Farris Watkins, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, explores six principles that encompass one of Dr. King’s greatest legacies: love. Little readers learn the six core principles that provided the building blocks for Dr. King's non-violence movement. According to Amazon, each principle is explained with examples of how Dr. King used each one.
4'Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song' by Andrea Davis Pinkney
This colorful book Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song ($16, Barnes and Noble) tells the story of the friendship between Dr. King and singer Mahalia Jackson. "On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous 'I Have a Dream' speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and his strong voice and powerful message were joined and lifted in song by world-renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson," the Barnes and Noble website noted. "It was a moment that changed the course of history and is imprinted in minds forever."
5'Lillian’s Right To Vote' by Jonah Winter
In this hardcover book Lillian's Right to Vote ($15, Amazon), an elderly African American woman Lillian is en route to her polling place as she reflects on the history of her ancestors who were denied the right to vote, including the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and her great-grandfather voting for the first time, and a younger her marching in a protest from Selma to Montgomery. While not a book that is directly about King, Lillian's Right To Vote certainly pays homage to America's battle for civil rights and its leaders, Dr. King among them.
8'National Geographic Readers: Martin Luther King, Jr.' by Kitson Jazynka
Score this classic National Geographic guide, National Geographic Readers: Martin Luther King, Jr. ($4, Amazon) to help your kids learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. King. According to Amazon, the biography is made easy to understand by incorporating "sidebars, timetables, diagrams, and fun facts to hold the interest of the young reader."
10'Let The Children March' by Monica Clark-Robinson
Among the most powerful voices to fuel a movement has been that of Dr. King. That's why this book ($14, Barnes and Noble) is so important in teaching children about the prolific leader. "In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak," Barnes and Noble noted. Let the Children March highlights those kids who used their voices to help change the world.
11'Child Of The Civil Rights Movement' by Paula Young Shelton
With an activist father and a community of leaders surrounding her, including Uncle Martin (Martin Luther King), Paula Young Shelton watched and listened to the struggles that initiated the civil rights movement. Because of that, Child of the Civil Rights Movement ($8, Barnes and Noble) shows young Paula — along with her family and thousands of others — participating in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.
14'The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist' by Cynthia Levinson
The Youngest Marcher ($12, Amazon) introduces to kids 9-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks, the youngest known child to be arrested for the civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Moving pictures and colorful illustrations show kids that everyone, no matter how young or small, can make a difference.
15'My Uncle Martin's Big Heart' by Angela Farris Watkins
16'Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream And You' by Carole Boston Weatherford
Everyone can be a King and "stamp out hatred" or "beat the drum for justice," according to Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream and You ($15, Barnes and Noble). The book features moments from Dr. King's life juxtaposed against scenes from a modern classroom where students learn about him, showing readers how they can bring touches of King's methodology into their everyday lives.
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