6 Great Martin Luther King, Jr., Books to Read to Your Kid

martin luther king jr.Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is coming up on Monday, January 16. How can you make this important day, honoring the great Civil Rights leader, meaningful for your kids? Why not read them a few books about what Martin Luther King, Jr., stood for?

Here are six terrific books about Martin Luther King, Jr., and/or the struggle for Civil Rights:

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier: This elegant, award-winning picture-book biography uses King's own words as a narrative through-line to give kids ages 5 to 9 a great introduction to the Civil Rights leader's early life, his role in the Montgomery bus boycott, and the principles he fought for.


Freedom Summer, by Deborah Wiles, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue: This deeply affecting, impressionistically illustrated picture book, set in Mississippi during the summer of 1964, follows the friendship of two boys – one black, one white – and the disappointingly slow pace of change after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Ages 4 to 8.

My Dream of Martin Luther King, by Faith Ringgold: The award-winning creator of Tar Beach and Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky brings readers ages 4 to 8 an intimate glimpse of King's childhood, his mission to end discrimination and segregation, his assassination, and his legacy. (Ringgold's If A Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks is also a wonderful choice for kids interested in Civil Rights.)

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue Lagarrigue: What would it feel like if you couldn't have a cold drink on a hot day at the store you shop at just because of the color of your skin? Kids (ages 5 and up) learn abut the lunch-counter sit-ins, which marked a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights movement, as seen through the eyes of an 8-year-old girl named Connie.

Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad, by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson: This sensitively rendered picture book about a young slave named Henry who dreams of freedom – and manages to achieve it -- will help kids ages 4 and up understand the stakes of the struggle for freedom and racial equality in the United States.

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr., by David A. Adler, illustrated by Robert Casilla: This evocative, easy-to-read picture-book traces King's life and legacy, from his painful early experiences with discrimination to the 1963 march on Washington, D.C. Ages 4 to 9.

Are there other books about Civil Rights history you've enjoyed reading with your kids?


Image via Gary Soup/Flickr

Read More >