As we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 21, 2019, why not check out a book to read with your family? Here are some of my favorites to share with kids and teens. Although children are taught about the famous civil rights leader at school, reading as a family can reinforce the values of courage, sacrifice, and non-violent activism.
For the youngest children, these books by Margaret McNamara and Jean Marzollo give simple explanations of the annual holiday celebrating King’s life.
I love to share Martin’s Big Words, written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier. It summarizes King’s life with emphasis on the power of his words. My favorite King quote from the book is “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It’s a very moving book, but told in a way that will connect with even young children.
For slightly older children, I have a Dream contains excerpts from the famous speech and is illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Martin & Mahalia takes a unique approach by exploring the intersection of the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr. and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Written by Andrea Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney, the book concludes with Jackson’s performance and King’s speech at the March on Washington.
The illustrators of the previous three books are certainly among the most highly respected of children’s book illustrators. Together, Nelson, Pinkney, and Collier have won eight Caldecott Honor Awards and numerous Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards.
The next four books get progressively more difficult in reading level, but are well worth reading.
The following books by Tonya Bolden and Russell Freedman were written for teens, but are also great for adult readers.
One last suggestion would be to check out this title which contains audio files of many of King’s most famous speeches. Choose one to listen to as a family, and you might be surprised to have family members ask to hear more! You can find this item upstairs at the Aurora Public Library in the room with the audio-books.