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 great books that bring MLK and the civil rights period to life, through the eyes of children. Here are our top 5 children’s books to share with your kids on MLK Day.
- A Sweet Smell of Roses By Angela Johnson (ages 4-8)
A picture book that tells the story of two young girls who sneak out of their house to march with Dr. King for freedom and justice. This book offers a look into the roles of children during the civil rights movement.
- 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 Story of Ruby Bridges By Robert Coles (ages 4-8)
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.
- 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.
- Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King By Jean Marzollo (ages 3-6)
A simple book explaining why we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. Written in a language all readers can understand, this book tells the story of the important message of peace and brotherhood that Dr. King preached about.
Whether you’re looking for activities to do while your kids are home from school or searching for books to read to (or with) your child at bedtime, these books will do the trick. We hope they pique your child’s interest and spark meaningful conversations within your family.