Martin Luther King Day Books

Looking for resources to share with your kids this Martin Luther King Day? Look no further. This US holiday has become a time not only to honor the contributions and legacy of an amazing man, but also to recognize the fight for equality and civil rights that continues to this day. Help your kiddos understand the history behind the holiday with one or more of these thought-provoking titles.


Introduce the youngest set to Dr. King’s life with the board book The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Johnny Ray Moore. This is part of a continuing series on holidays and people, and these books are great for laying out the basics of a topic. Don’t expect an in-depth exploration of the topic, but rather a good summation of the highlights, written using only 200 words. A solid choice to begin talking and thinking about a true American hero.

Older elementary readers will enjoy the biography Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr. by Bonnie Bader. These Who Was titles are generally well-researched and written, but still accessible, and kids who like the facts behind the famous faces will find this one quite engaging. Bader doesn’t shy away from discussing Dr. King’s assassination here, so be ready for that – but it’s an important part of his life that will help young readers understand the impact of his work.

I recently reviewed Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song for my blog Sprout’s Bookshelf. I love the way this title places Dr. King’s work in context alongside that of others from the same time, showing how activists were inspired and encouraged by one another. In this book, authors Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney relate not only Dr. King’s story, but also that of Mahalia Jackson, a talented singer whose gifts brought Dr. King’s message to an even broader audience.


Dr. King’s sister Christine King Ferris has written a pair of picture books about her brother, both of which give a unique perspective on his life and work. In March On!: The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World, Ferris focuses on the March on Washington, and the role Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech had in changing American’s perspective on the struggle for civil rights. The text and illustrations are equally inspiring here.


Speaking of that legendary speech, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include my favorite book about Dr. King – I Have a Dream by Kadir Nelson. Taking excerpts of the text of Dr. King’s address verbatim, Nelson pairs them with his own extraordinary illustrations. The result is a powerful book that demonstrates the impact of what Dr. King and others were fighting to achieve: a world in which all could be equal and all could be free. Share this with children who know a bit about Dr. King’s work, for the maximum impact. And be ready to be moved yourself – it’s nearly impossible not to be, with this inspiring work.

For more titles on inclusion and diversity, visit my blog Sprout’s Bookshelf, or check out any of the other Multicultural Kid Blogs member sites!



About the Author:

blog header 2I’m Mary Kinser, librarian and lifelong children’s book addict. I’m also the proud mama of a little boy whose bookshelf will probably always be too full. My blog grew out of my continual efforts to surround my son with books that support him, as part of a transracial family formed through international adoption. Sprout’s Bookshelf contains titles that feature diversity of all sorts, and books that address various aspects of adoption as well. Oh, but it’s not all serious — there are loads of fun read-alouds, engaging chapter books and some titles that just make Sprout laugh!



Martin Luther King Day for Kids on Multicultural Kid BlogsThis post is part of the series Martin Luther King Day for Kids from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Come learn with us this month as we share resources to teach kids about Civil Rights and community service!  You can link up your own posts on our main page or find even more resources on our Black History and Teaching Global Citizenship Pinterest boards.


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Mary Kinser

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