Honor an amazing public servant and civil rights hero with these children’s books about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and expand with activities to create a unit study of his life, words, and impact on our society.
I distinctly remember the evening my husband and I taught our children about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his peaceful work to bring civil rights to our country. We explained how slavery began and the resulting degradation of Black Americans.
As we told the children about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the assassination that ended his life, my oldest daughter looked at me and asked,
Are we white or black?
Honestly, I was stunned that she didn’t know but encouraged knowing that she could not tell our ethnicity based on our behavior towards people of a different color. We must be doing a good job of loving others equally and teaching our children to do the same.
I told her, “We are white.”
“Oh no!” she wailed. “That means we are the bad guys!”
Did you pick up the Free Martin Luther King Jr Literacy Pack?
That lead us to a discussion about tolerance, unconditional love, and forgiveness.
In a world where violence seems to increase daily and racial tensions are higher than ever, I think it is very important to teach our children – regardless of color – that peaceful protest is possible. Peaceful protest can change the world. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proved it.
Children’s Books About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
With any printable pack, pick up a few of these books from your local library or Amazon.com to enhance your unit study.
My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – What was it like growing up as a son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? This picture book memoir, My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King III, provides insight into one of history’s most fascinating families and into a special bond between father and son. Ages 4-8.
Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 25 when he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was soon organizing black people across the country in support of the right to vote, desegregation, and other basic civil rights. Maintaining nonviolent and peaceful tactics even when his life was threatened, King was also an advocate for the poor and spoke out against racial and economic injustice until his death from an assassin’s bullet in 1968. Ages 8-12.
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life. Ages 5-8.
The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. – This little book tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr. in a way that even very young children will understand. This simple but accurate account of his life begins with King’s childhood, making it easy for little ones to relate to his story. Children will learn that he excelled in school, became a minister, and worked to end segregation in America. Ages 2-5.
My First Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man. His words changed the way people thought, and his actions spurred them on to change the world. With simple, lyrical text and bold, kid-friendly illustrations, this book introduces Dr. King to the youngest readers and inspires them to change the world. Ages 4-8.
I Have a Dream (Book & CD) – From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King: “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing “I Have a Dream” speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.” Ages 7 and up.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington (Penguin Young Readers, L3) – Told with a wonderful immediacy, this book captures the spirit of this August 28, 1963 – a landmark day in American history – and brings Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to vivid life for young children. Ages 6-8.
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Picture Book Biography) – Here the highlights of King’s life are presented with an emphasis on his childhood and family. Children will immediately relate to his painful early experiences of racism and understand the genesis of his lifelong struggle for racial equality. Ages 4-9.
National Geographic Readers: Martin Luther King, Jr. (Readers Bios) – In this level two biography, difficult concepts are made understandable and transitioned into a more approachable manner. This includes the use of sidebars, timetables, diagrams and fun facts to hold the interest of the young reader. The colorful design and educational illustrations round out this text as an exemplary book for their young minds to explore. Ages 5-8.
DK Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr. – Amy Pastan has created a photographic story with fascinating details and a fresh perspective based on the latest research. Through reading this biography, children will learn about inhumane segregation laws and why racism is wrong. Definition boxes teach children about nonviolent resistance or grassroots movements. Ages 10-17.
More unit study resources for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- Get the free printable Civil Rights Coloring Pages and Activities to expand your study.
- Have you stopped by Blessed Beyond a Doubt for her Free Martin Luther King Jr. PreK Pack?
- Use this sweet “I Have a Dream” craft idea at Scholastic.
- Watch this video of fun facts about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
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