Children’s Books to Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.

Whenever I hear anything about Martin Luther King I’m almost always moved to tears. It’s a pathetic understatement to mention how influential he was/is, how full of purpose and resolve, how he literally made the world a better place.

We often hear the phrase “things will never change” and “hopeless” a great deal and it’s very easy to believe it (especially in today’s political and social climate). But I can’t help but think how much damage a person can do by saying those words. They get tossed around so casually, and I wonder exactly how many times MLK must have heard them. Did he ever waver? Was he ever deterred? He orchestrated monumental events in Selma, in Birmingham, in Atlanta… but how many never happened because a seed of doubt was planted by the friendly neighborhood hate group, or worse – a well-meaning friend?

In Dr. King I have learned that it is feasible for one person, in the span of a very few decades, to change the entire world. Do you have any idea how much hope a thought like that can give? It lifts me up. It makes me. Dig. In. I’m not trying to dream a dream for a whole nation or instill in the world a sense of social justice and equality. But I AM trying to raise my boys that way. And be a good spouse and a good friend. And work hard in a community I love.


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A little well-timed hope can come in handy…

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Martin’s Big Words” by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Having a conversation about Dr. King can be difficult for parents with younger children. Most of the picture books on his life are wordy biographies, but it is possible to find a few books that condense his vision into something even a preschooler can understand.


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Here are my favorite books to read to kids ages 3 – 8. I chose them because they are easy to read aloud, the illustrations are exceptional, and the story of Martin Luther King is written in a way smaller children would understand and ask questions.

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier


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My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringgold

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