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15 Books Celebrating MLK Jr.

By Lindsay Pinchuk
On Monday January 18, 2021 America will observe a national holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  This special day celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation and for racial equality in the United States. 
As we look to educate our kids of all ages on the significance of this holiday, BCB rounded up some of our favorite books about Martin Luther King, Jr. , his family, the Civil Rights Movement, and other heroes like him.  These books are for readers of all ages, starting with our babies and going up to our fifth graders.  The books below are linked to three of our favorite independent book stores across the country:  The Strand Bookstore, Powells Bookstore and Andersen Bookshop as we look to support local whenever possible.  All three of these stores ship nationwide. 
  1. Good Night Martin Luther King, Jr.: This board book is. a great introduction to MLK for our babies.
  2. I am Martin Luther King, Jr. : A great first book to introduce MLK to the littlest readers in your life.
  3. A Sweet Smell of Roses: This book from two Coretta Scott King Award winners tells a story of the Civil Rights movement with the story of two young girls who sneak out of their house to check out the place where men and women gather for a march for justice.
  4. Chicken Sunday:  This is the story of how a young Russian American girl has a special bond with her African American neighbors.
  5. Child of the Civil Rights Movement:Written by the daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young, Paula Young brings a child’s unique perspective to an important chapter in America’s history. Paula grew up in the deep south, in a world where whites had and blacks did not. With an activist father and a community of leaders surrounding her, including Uncle Martin (Martin Luther King), Paula watched and listened to the struggles, eventually joining with her family–and thousands of others–in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.
  6. City Green:This is the story of how one girl’s motivation turns into community action.
  7. March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World: A book written from the perspective of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sister.
  8. Through My Eyes:A memoir of the Civil Rights Movement from one of its youngest heroes, Ruby Bridges.
  9. My Daddy, Martin Luther King, Jr. In this picture book memoir, My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King III, provides insight into one of history’s most fascinating families and into a special bond between father and son.
  10. This is the Dream:  This is the story of the students who marched into the first desegregated school, the passengers who boycotted the buses, and the leaders who stood up and spoke out.
  11. The Youngest Marcher: This is the story of the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963,  proving you’re never too little to make a difference.
  12. As Good as Anybody:  Here is the story of two icons for social justice, one Black and one Jewish, and how they formed a remarkable friendship and turned their personal experiences of discrimination into a message of love and equality for all.
  13. What was The March on Washington? A book that tells the story of August 28, 1963, when more than 200,000 people gathered in Washington, DC, to demand equal rights for all races. It was there that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, and it was this peaceful protest that spurred the momentous civil rights laws of the mid-1960s.
  14. My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart:This beautiful story is told from the perspective of MLK’s niece.
  15. Martin Luther King: The Peaceful WarriorOriginally published in 1964, this book’s powerful story and message remain as relevant today as they were more than 50 years ago.

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