Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an incredible man with an equally powerful message. It’s important for young children to know his legacy and understand what he fought for. But where do you start? Thankfully, some wonderful authors have written impactful books that bring MLK and the civil rights period to life through the eyes of children.
Check out our top 5 children’s books to share with your kids on MLK Day.
1. A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson (ages 4-8)
This picture book tells the story of two young girls who sneak out of their home to march with Dr. King for freedom and justice. This book offers a look into the courageous role of young children and their involvement during the civil rights movement.
2. Belle, The Last Mule at Gee’s Bend: A Civil Rights Story by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud (ages 4-8)
Inspired by a true story, this book gives us a glimpse of history through the eyes of a young boy and a mule that played a key role in the civil rights movement. The personal perspective of this story shows us how this time in history had such a powerful impact on the trajectory of our society.
3. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles (ages 4-8)
Inspired by a true story, Ruby Bridges and her family moved to Louisiana in search of a better life. When Ruby entered first grade at an all-white elementary school, she faced adversity that no 6-year-old should ever have to go through. Ruby’s story of hope and forgiveness is powerful for both adults and children alike.
4. Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford (ages 4-8)
Follow a classroom of young students as they unfold the story of Dr. Martin Luther King through a school project. See the adversity he dealt with, the hope he never lost, and beautiful illustrations to enhance the reader’s experience.
5. Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo (ages 3-6)
This simple yet powerfully poetic book dives into the reason why we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. Written in a language all readers can understand, this book displays the important message of peace and brotherhood that Dr. King so often preached about.
These inspiring books all tell the story of how our history was impacted by the civil rights movement, and by a man with a dream. They point to the importance of understanding diversity and having the courage to stand up for what is right, even at a young age. We learn that even a small child can change the world with the act of compassion. We hope these stories pique your child’s interest and spark meaningful conversations within your family.