Here are suggestions for three books that I suggest would be good read alouds about Martin Luther King for to the children in your life.
Obviously, these are not the only good ideas of books about Martin Luther King, Jr. So, please find other too – or to read in place of these.
I was alive during the civil rights movement and the Martin Luther King, Jr. is real to me. His strength, his focus, his humanity and his (our) dream is real to me. I am not sure that children growing up today necessarily understand the reason for Martin Luther King Day. So, as a Dad or Mon Or Grandfather or Grandmother I suggest you intentionally focus on Martin Luther King, Jr. with those you love.
Here are some books that may be of value to you as you intentionally approach this important holiday.
By Ellen Levine and illustrated by Beth Peck
A reviewer from the Amazon site had this to say about the book – “The question and answer format lends itself to reading aloud and then discussing topics that come up, like segregation, white supremacy, the Montgomery bus boycott, etc. I recently read part of this book to a fourth grade class who just had “segregation” as a vocabulary word. The students were quite attentive and asked some excellent questions. The title is a bit misleading in that some might view it as a biography of Dr. King. While many sections do draw upon personal events in Dr. King’s life, such as when he was a youngster riding in the car with his father and he heard a police officer call his dad “boy.” Or again, when he was young and he was told he could no longer play with his white friends. But as the title says, it’s really about if you lived at the “time” of Dr. King. Therefore, it’s an excellent introduction to many aspects of the Civil Rights movement. While the watercolor illustrations are an improvement over the black and white drawings in earlier editions of this “If You Lived At the Time Of” series, in this case I think the text could be more fully enhanced with actual photographs, especially since many of these illustrations are copied from well-known photographs. All in all, this is an excellent introduction to the Civil Rights Movement for upper-elementary students (and apparently for middle-school students according to another review here). This is one title that, in my opinion, should be in every elementary school in the nation.”
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. By Diane Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier
The Publishers Weekly Review states: “This picture-book biography provides an ideal introduction to this leader and his works. Juxtaposing original text with quotes from King’s writing and speeches, Rappaport’s (Escape from Slavery) narrative offers a pastiche of scenes from King’s life, beginning with his childhood experience of seeing “White Only” signs sprinkled throughout his hometown. He questions his mother about their meaning, and she assures him, “You are as good as anyone.” Listening to his father preach, the boy asserts that “When I grow up, I’m going to get big words, too.” Rappaport also touches upon King’s role in the Montgomery bus strike that followed Rosa Park’s 1955 arrest for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger and his subsequent efforts as a civil rights crusader. After briefly describing the circumstances of his death, the story concludes, quite abruptly, with the statement, “His big words are alive for us today.” The author relies on her subject’s own words, and his power, passion and pacifism shine through. Collier’s (Uptown) striking watercolor and cut paper collage art feature closely focused, lifelike images of King and other individuals against an inventive montage of patterns and textures. The portraits of King exude his spiritual strength and peaceful visage. In the background of some scenes are intricate recreations of stained glass windows, which, Collier explains in an introductory note, he interprets as a metaphor for King’s life. An elegant, understated pictorial biography.”
The School Library Journal Review state this a bout the book – “This beautifully illustrated , easy-to-read biography takes a look at the life, leadership, and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Adler examines King’s family background, leadership of the Montgomery bus boycott, and the 1963 march on Washington, D.C. By focusing primarily on these events, Adler provides young readers with enough basic information to form a well-rounded picture of King and his ideals. However, the outstanding feature of this book is the vivid watercolor illustrations, which are sure to capture readers’ attention. Casilla dramatically reveals the mood and feelings of the era. An error appears in the chronology section, where it states that King was married in Marion, Georgia instead of Marion, Alabama (some sources list Heiberger, Alabama, which is nearby). A fine introduction to King and the freedom movement, and one that would be equally useful for storyhour and discussion groups.”