Martin Luther King, Jr. For All Ages


My top 19 books to share about the great civil rights leader.


My Uncle Martin’s Words for America:  Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Niece Tells How He Made a Difference.  Angela Farris Watkins.  Abrams, 2011.
The author describes how her uncle lead the Civil Rights Movement with words like nonviolence, justice, freedom, brotherhood.  This powerful book with stunning illustrations is told from a child’s perspective.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 2nd-5th grade


My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart.  Angela Farris Watkins, PhD.  Abrams, 2010.
King’s niece was just four years old when he was killed, but she has vivid, fond memories of her uncle and his love for family and his country.  Beautifully told and illustrated.
Read-aloud 2nd-4th grade

As Good as Anybody:  Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom.  Richard Michelson.  Random House, 2008.
A powerful, beautifully illustrated picture book that chronicles the almost parallel lives of the minister and rabbi that brought them together as civil rights leaders.  They marched together in Selma, Alabama in March of 1965.  The illustrations capture the anger and emotions of the time.
Read-aloud 4th-6th grade

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  David Adler.  Holiday House, 2001.
Even though this is an easy reader, it captures the emotion of Dr. King’s life.
Good for older kids reading below grade level.
3rd-5th grade

Free at Last!  The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. Angela Bull.  DK, 2009.
In 47 pages, Bull gives a solid, basic timeline of King’s life and accomplishments.
Lots of photos and text features, including a glossary and index.
Grades 4-6th

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr.  Jean Marzollo.  Scholastic, 2006.
Simply told and illustrated by Brian Pinkney, this picture book is perfect for young children.
Read-aloud K-2nd grade

I Have a Dream: The Life and  Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. James Haskins.  Millbrook Press, 1992.
Dr. King’s Life and achievements  are well chronicled here.  Lots fo quotes form his writing and speeches, and a moving introduction by Rosa Parks.
4th-6th grade

–If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King.  Ellen Levine.  Scholastic, 2006.
A question and answer format great for discussing this period in history.
3rd-5th grade

I’ve Seen the Promised Land :  The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Walter Dean Myers.  HarperCollins, 2004.
This is a great place to start discussing Dr. King’s life and contributions.  It begins with Rosa Parks’ arrest and ends with King’s death.  dramatic, eloquent text and illustrations.
A perfect picture book.
Read-aloud 1st-4th grade

A Lesson for Martin Luther King, Jr.  Denise Lewis Patrick.  Aladdin, 2003.
A high quality easy reader telling the true story of an incident where a white friend of Martin’s says they play together anymore because “colored and white can’t mix.”
Marin decides he wants to change people’s minds.
K-2nd grade

March On! : The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World.  Christine King Farris.  Scholastic, 2008.
A compelling and inspiring look at King’s preparation for his I Have a Dream speech and what it was like to be part of the march.  A new perspective on an historic day.
Read-aloud 2nd-5th grade

Martin Luther King.  Rosemary Bray.  Mulberry, 1997.
Colorful folk art illustrations help tell the story of King’s life and work.
Read-aloud 1st-3rd grade



Martin Luther King, Jr.:  Civil Rights Leader and Nobel Prize Winner.  Andrew Santella.  Child’s World, 2004.
A well-done chronological picture book biography (36 pages).  Great sepia tone photos.
Though not intended as a read-aloud, parts of it lend themselves to this with lots to discuss.
Grades 4-6th

Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Mir Tamim Ansary.  Heinemann, 2006.
Good basic information with many non-fiction text features.  One of the better titles for younger kids.
K-2nd grade



Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Reagan Miller.  Crabtree, 2009.
A solid choice explaining why we have the holiday and how it is celebrated.
The layout, photos and text features are a real plus.
Grades 2-4th

Martin’s Big Words. Doreen Rapport.  Hyperion, 2001.
From a young age, Martin had big ideas and wanted to inspire others with his words.  This Caldecott Honor Book is visually powerful and poetically written.  Much to talk about and be inspired by.
Read-aloud 2nd-6th grade

My Brother Martin : A Sister Remembers Growing Up With the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Christine King Farris.  Simon & Schuster, 2003.
A powerfully told true story of segregation seen through the eyes of the King children.
Chris Soentpiet is gifted at painting light.  He used family members as models for hie realistic watercolors.
Read-aloud K-3rd grade


A Picture Book of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  David Adler.  Holiday House, 1989.
You can count on Adler for succinct quality in his picture book biographies.  Here he focuses on King’s family background, the Montgomery bus boycott, and the march on Washington, D.C.  Beautifully illustrated.
Read-aloud K-3rd grade

Riding to Washington. Gwenyth Swain.  Sleeping Bear Press, 2008.
This story is based on the author’s father’s memories of attending the 1963 march on Washington.  It is especially good because it is told from the point of view of a child who has not experienced discrimination or had much contact with black Americans until she rides the bus to Washington with her father.
Read-aloud 2nd-5th grade
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