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Diverse Books For All Ages

Books That Celebrate Every Story, Every Voice, Every Child

I Have a Dream: 25+ Children's Books to Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Updated: Jan 10


To celebrate Dr. King's life, America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year. This date sometimes falls on Dr. King's birthday, which is January 15th.


“Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Many people choose celebrate Dr. King Day by serving their communities in honor of Dr. King's commitment to improving our nation and beyond. We've listed 10 ways for children to serve their community in this post: 10 Ways Children Can Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The children's books listed here will inspire children to use their voices, take action, and work to keep Dr. King's dream and their own dreams alive. For your convenience, we've included publisher's descriptions for each book.

Children's Books about Dr. King Board Book

The #1 New York Times Bestselling Who Was? series expands into the board book space, bringing age-appropriate biographies of influential figures to readers ages 2-4.


The chronology and themes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s meaningful life are presented in a masterfully succinct text, with just a few sentences per page. The fresh, stylized illustrations are sure to captivate young readers and adults alike. With a read-aloud biographical summary in the back, this age-appropriate introduction honors and shares the life and work of one of the most influential civil rights activists of our time.


FIND IT HERE: BOOKSHOP


The littlest readers can learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., in this board book version of the New York Times bestselling Ordinary People Change the World biography.


This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great--the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. In this new board book format, the very youngest readers can learn about one of America's icons in the series' signature lively, conversational way. The short text focuses on drawing inspiration from these iconic heroes and includes an interactive element and factual tidbits that young kids will be able to connect with. This volume tells the story of Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leader.


FIND IT HERE: BOOKSHOP


Martin Luther King Jr. led the American Civil Rights Movement. But do you know what he was like as a child? From roller skating to playing football and basketball, Martin was a fun-loving child. This playful story of his childhood will help young readers connect with a historic figure and will inspire them to want to achieve greatness.


FIND IT HERE: AMAZON


The granddaughter of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King delivers a stirring tribute to her grandparents that speaks to children everywhere about her hopes for a new future.


In this stirring tribute to Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King, Jr., their granddaughter, Yolanda - a national civil rights figure in her own right - is ready to lead in this powerful picture book text! With inspiration from Langston Hughes and deep love for her grandparents, Yolanda King shows the world that young people are strong enough to carry on their elders' legacy while creating a new path for themselves. Her words are meaningful and universal, painting an expressive tableau of the issues facing young people today - racial equality, bullying, gun violence, climate change, disease, community, empowerment, inclusion, and more. Yolanda's words will comfort and inspire the next generation of dreamers.


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Bestselling author and journalist Kitty Kelley combines her elegant storytelling with Stanley Tretick's iconic photographs to transport readers to the 1963 March on Washington, bringing that historic day vividly to life for a new generation in this nonfiction picture book.


Martin Luther King Jr. was nervous. Standing at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, he was about to address 250,000 people with what would become known as his "I Have a Dream Speech"--the most famous speech of his life.


This day--August 28, 1963--was a momentous day in the Civil Rights Movement. It was the culmination of years spent leading marches, sit-ins, and boycotts across the South to bring attention to the plight of African Americans. Years spent demanding equality for all. Years spent dreaming of the day that black people would have the same rights as white people, and would be treated with the same dignity and respect. It was time for Martin to share his dream.


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Picture books about Dr. King Childrens Book I have a Dream

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."


On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation's history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson's magnificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike.


The themes of equality and freedom for all are not only relevant today, 50 years later, but also provide young readers with an important introduction to our nation's past.

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Two young girls not only witness but help to change history in this inspiring and urgent Civil Rights-era picture book by three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Angela Johnson.


There's a sweet, sweet smell in the air as two young girls sneak out of their house, down the street, and across town to where men and women are gathered, ready to march for freedom and justice. Inspired by the countless young people who took a stand against the forces of injustice, two Coretta Scott King Honorees, Angela Johnson and Eric Velasquez, offer a stirring yet jubilant glimpse of the youth involvement that played an invaluable role in the Civil Rights movement.


FIND IT HERE: AMAZON


Be a King Dr Martin Luther King Children's Book

You can be a King. Stamp out hatred. Put your foot down and walk tall. You can be a King. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience. Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King's life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherford's poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives. See a class of young students as they begin a school project inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and learn to follow his example, as he dealt with adversity and never lost hope that a future of equality and justice would soon be a reality. As times change, Dr. King's example remains, encouraging a new generation of children to take charge and change the world . . . to be a King.

FIND IT HERE: BOOKSHOP


A stunning picture book biography of the civil rights icon from the author of two Newbery Honor Books and six Coretta Scott King Awardees. Set against key moments of the civil rights movement, here is the story of the powerful, eloquent spiritual leader and his belief that nonviolence could be used as a tool to begin to address racial discrimination.


Walter Dean Myers's moving narrative and Leonard Jenkins's compelling paintings convey a vivid and striking image of the man who moved American society closer to the ideals of freedom and fairness.


FIND IT HERE: AMAZON


This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s final stand for justice before his assassination--when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.


In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city's refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his I've Been to the Mountaintop sermon in Mason Temple Church. Inspired by the memories of a teacher who participated in the strike as a child, author Alice Faye Duncan reveals the story of the Memphis sanitation strike from the perspective of a young girl with a riveting combination of poetry and prose.


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ThisCaldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King Honor, and New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children's Book picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., brings his life and the profound nature of his message to young children through his own words.


Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most influential and gifted speakers of all time. Doreen Rappaport uses quotes from some of his most beloved speeches to tell the story of his life and his work in a simple, direct way. Bryan Collier's stunning collage art combines remarkable watercolor paintings with vibrant patterns and textures. A timeline and a list of additional books and websites help make this a standout biography of Dr. King.


FIND IT HERE: BOOKSHOP


With Martin's sermons and Mahalia's songs, folks were free to shout, to sing their joy.


On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and his strong voice and powerful message were joined and lifted in song by world-renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. It was a moment that changed the course of history and is imprinted in minds forever.


Told through Andrea Davis Pinkney's poetic prose and Brian Pinkney's evocative illustration, the stories of these two powerful voices and lives are told side-by-side -- as they would one day walk -- following the journey from their youth to a culmination at this historical event when they united as one and inspiring kids to find their own voices and speak up for what is right.


FIND IT HERE: BOOKSHOP


A picture-book tribute to the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.


In this inspirational story about Martin Luther King Jr.--told from the perspective of his niece, Angela--readers learn how King used words of love and peace to effectively fight for African Americans' civil rights. The book focuses on words and phrases from King's speeches, such as justice, freedom and equality.


Angela Farris Watkins, PhD demonstrates the importance of her uncle's language in bringing about changes during the Civil Rights Movement, from his "I Have a Dream" speech to the peace march in Alabama. Including a timeline and a glossary, this stirring and poignant book is a wonderful introduction to Martin Luther King Jr. and his powerful message of nonviolence.


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A moving portrait of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. from his niece


My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart is a story about love: love between a young girl and her uncle, and all the love she sees her uncle share—with his family members, with his church congregation, and with all people. In this inspiring narrative about Martin Luther King Jr.—told by his niece—young readers will discover the story of the man behind the civil rights hero and activist, one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century.


As Angela Farris Watkins, PhD, introduces children to her uncle, she presents them with a rare glimpse into his life at home, including special family moments. What unfolds is a story of character and service to God, family, and mankind, and of how one man’s extraordinary love changed the history of the United States and the world.


FIND IT HERE: AMAZON


The niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. reveals six timeless and universal principles that encompass the civil rights leader’s greatest legacy: Love will see you through.


Growing up as the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Farris Watkins witnessed firsthand the principles and values that “Uncle M.L.” practiced and lived by throughout his fight for equality.


Drawing from experiences and episodes both personal and well-known, Dr. Watkins artfully details the guiding beliefs of one of the greatest men in history. Including “have courage” and “love your enemies,” these six hallmarks of virtue and nonviolence reinforce the truth that “the universe honors love” and will inspire readers of all ages.

FIND IT HERE: AMAZON


Children's Books about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I couldn't play on the same playground as the white kids.

I couldn't go to their schools.

I couldn't drink from their water fountains.

There were so many things I couldn't do.

In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world.


Frank Morrison's emotive oil-on-canvas paintings bring this historical event to life, while Monica Clark-Robinson's moving and poetic words document this remarkable time.

FIND IT HERE: BOOKSHOP


Martin Rising Childrens about Dr. King

In a rich embroidery of visions, musical cadence, and deep emotion, Andrea and Brian Pinkney convey the final months of Martin Luther King's life -- and of his assassination -- through metaphor, spirituality, and multilayers of meaning.


Andrea's stunning poetic requiem, illustrated with Brian's lyrical and colorful artwork, brings a fresh perspective to Martin Luther King, the Gandhi-like, peace-loving activist whose dream of equality -- and whose courage to make it happen -- changed the course of American history. And even in his death, he continues to transform and inspire all of us who share his dream.


FIND IT HERE: BOOKSHOP


Christine Platt the story of Martin Luther King Jr

Learn about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with this inspiring children's book, perfect for reading together as a family. From acclaimed artist Faith Ringgold, the Coretta Scott King and Caldecot Honor winning creator of Tar Beach.


Faith Ringgold brings her own voice and artistic vision to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the history of the civil rights movement. Illustrated with the dramatic folk-modern paintings for which Faith Ringgold is renowned, this inspiring story begins with her dream of Dr. Martin Luther King and ends with the promise of peace and hope.


This beautifully illustrated and heartfelt story is followed by a list of important dates in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and the civil rights movement. Includes two pages of activities to help kids explore and reflect on what they've learned!


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Much has been written about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1963 March on Washington. But there's little on his legendary speech and how he came to write it.


Martin Luther King, Jr. was once asked if the hardest part of preaching was knowing where to begin. No, he said. The hardest part is knowing where to end. It's terrible to be circling up there without a place to land.


Finding this place to land was what Martin Luther King, Jr. struggled with, alongside advisors and fellow speech writers, in the Willard Hotel the night before the March on Washington, where he gave his historic, I Have a Dream speech. But those famous words were never intended to be heard on that day, not even written down for that day, not even once.

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Renowned educator Christine King Farris, older sister of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., joins with celebrated illustrator Chris Soentpiet to tell this inspirational story of how one boyhood experience inspired a movement that would change the world as we know it.


Mother Dear, one day I'm going to turn this world upside down.


Long before he became a world-famous dreamer, Martin Luther King Jr. was a little boy who played jokes and practiced the piano and made friends without considering race. But growing up in the segregated south of the 1930s taught young Martin a bitter lesson--little white children and little black children were not to play with one another. Martin decided then and there that something had to be done. And so he began the journey that would change the course of American history.

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For Black History Month, Ana & Andrew join a research group at the Community Center. They learn many interesting things about Martin Luther King Jr.! Later, with the help of some other children, they make one of Martins famous dreams come true. Aligned to Common Core standards and correlated to state standards.


FIND IT HERE: AMAZON


In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Martin Luther King Jr., the inspiring minister and civil rights activist.


Little Martin grew up in a family of preachers: his dad was a preacher, his uncle was a preacher, his grandfather was a preacher…so maybe he’d become a great preacher too. One day, a friend invited him to play at his house. Martin was shocked when his mother wouldn’t let him in because he was black. That day he realized there was something terribly unfair going on. Martin believed that no one should remain silent and accept something if it's wrong. And he promised himself that—when he grew up—he’d fight injustice with the most powerful weapon of all: words. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the inspiring activist’s life.


FIND IT HERE: AMAZON


Christine Platt the story of Martin Luther King Jr

Discover the life of Martin Luther King Jr-a story for kids ages 6 to 9 about standing up for civil rights

Martin Luther King Jr became one of the most important civil rights leaders in America by fighting for equality for black people. Before he made history with his powerful speeches and peaceful protests, Martin was a dedicated, smart kid who loved to learn. He challenged racism and overcame hardships to follow his passion and do the right thing.

Of all the Martin Luther King Jr books for kids, this one really helps you explore how Martin went from being a kid with a dream to an outstanding leader who made America a better place for everyone. How will his life inspire you to do what's right?


If you've been searching for Martin Luther King Jr books for kids that have beautiful illustrations and easy-to-read chapters, look no further-this one has it all.


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Using colorful infographics, this book presents over 250 facts about Martin Luther King, a minister who campaigned for the rights of African Americans during America’s Civil Rights Movement.


This graphic retelling of his story gives children a visual snapshot of his life and the world he grew up in, while educating them on everything from civil rights to the power of words.


It includes an overview of his life, a timeline spread, a family outline, and a geographical summary of important places. It also features ‘Did You Know’ facts and inspiring quotes.

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This brilliant memoir-in-verse tells the moving story of how a nation learned to celebrate a hero. Through years of protests and petition, Kathlyn's story highlights the foot soldiers who fought to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday.


Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round is a deeply moving middle grade memoir about what it means to be an everyday activist and foot solider for racial justice, as Kathlyn recounts how, drawn to activism from childhood, she went from attending protests as a teenager to fighting for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday to become a national holiday as an adult. A blueprint for kids starting down their own paths to civic awareness, it shows life beyond protests and details the sustained time, passion, and energy it takes to turn an idea into a law.


Deftly weaving together monumental historical events with a heartfelt coming-of-age story and in-depth information on law making, Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round is the perfect engaging example of how history can help inform the present.


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Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning #1 New York Times bestselling debut, a William C. Morris Award Finalist.


Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend--but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.


Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.


Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up--way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.


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Looking for more great read aloud ideas? Visit these fabulous blog posts:

 

 

RESOURCES FOR LEARNING ABOUT AND HONORING DR. KING


BRAINPOP Jr.:

“I have a dream...” Who began one of America’s greatest speeches with those words? In this BrainPOP video, you'll learn about life of the civil rights activist and nonviolent protester, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (YouTube)


KID PRESIDENT:

Once upon a time, there was a man named Martin Luther King, Jr. He taught us that things won't always be awesome, but your response can be. Remember, things don't always have to be they are. We can change them! Kids can change them. This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, celebrate the promise of change with Kid President. (YouTube)


MORE RESOURCES ON PINTEREST:

Hundreds of books and activities can be found in this Pinterest Post

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Activities
 

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