Kiddosphere: Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.
In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let’s take a look at some of the best children’s and YA books we have about the legendary civil rights leader and the time in which he lived:
We have several picture book versions of King’s March on Washington speech, but my favorite is Kadir Nelson’s exemplary depiction. Nelson’s unforgettable illustrations are top-notch, and a recording of King’s speech is included.
Although March: Book One and March: Book Two were not created for YA audiences, mature teens interested in learning more about the civil rights movement should definitely pick them up. Told from the perspective of Congressman John Lewis remembering the long and difficult struggle for civil rights as he prepares for President Obama’s first inauguration, these graphic novels are startling, moving and unforgettable.
Martin and Mahalia: His Words, Her Song is a gorgeously told and illustrated dual biography of King and the great gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson.
When librarians and teachers recommend children’s biographies about Martin Luther King Jr., Martin’s Big Words is often one of the first titles that they mention. This 2002 Caldecott Honor is somewhat sparse in text, but rich in emotion, gravitas, and hope.
If you need a read aloud for elementary school students, Angela Johnson’s A Sweet Smell of Roses should be at the top of your list. This fictional picture book follows two young girls as they attend a march led by King.
I was super thrilled when Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March was named one of this year’s Sibert Honor books. It’s a poignant look at the Selma Voting Rights March through the eyes of a 15 year old participant.
Finally, What Was the March on Washington? is an engaging overview of the historic march. If you’re not familiar with the Who Was series or its spinoff, What Is, you are missing out! We actually have quite a few kids who ask for these books by name, which is not often the case for biographies and history/geography!
Looking for more program highlights and staff suggestions for children and young adult readers? Make Kiddosphere your source for all the latest on what to read and what to do for kids!
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library