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Sharing the Dream: 10 Children’s Books about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement

We celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 21st.

While some holidays come and go as nothing more than an an excuse for my kids to miss school, this one feels different.

I remember the struggle for some states, including my own, to recognize the holiday. As a child I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult for legislators to come to a consensus about commemorating a man who’d done so much for civil rights in our country.

The holiday is a great way to teach children about who Martin Luther King, Jr. was, and how his legacy lives on today.

Since I know that one of the best ways to do this is through reading together, I’ve rounded up 10 books on his life and story.

Do you have a favorite? Share it in the comments!

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  • Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr. 1 of 10
    Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr.
    This book by J. Brian Pinkney tells the story of the civil rights movement leader's life in terms young children understand. It's great for 2nd and 3rd graders.
    Get it at Amazon, $6.99
  • Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. 2 of 10
    Martin's Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Doreen Rappaport's book uses King's own words to tell the story of his life. It's beautifully illustrated and great for grades K-3.
    Get it at Amazon, $7.99
  • My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 3 of 10
    My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    King's sister Christine King Farris tells a story all kids can relate to: the carefree games of neighborhood children. Unfortunately for young Christine and Martin, whom she calls, "M.L," they soon learn that they live in a world where all are not treated as equals. This is a wonderful glimpse into the life that shaped a remarkable man. For grades 2-4.
    Get it at Amazon, $7.99
  • As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom 4 of 10
    As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel's Amazing March Toward Freedom
    Richard Michaelson's book about King and Heschel, a Rabbi who'd fled Nazi Germany is wonderful for grades 1-5. It allows children to see the civil rights movement from another perspective, and sheds light onto the struggles faced in the name of equality.
    Get it at Amazon, $11.55
  • Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down 5 of 10
    Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
    It can be hard for today's children to truly appreciate the stuggles faced during the civil rights movement. So much of what went on in that era is, fortunately, totally foreign to them. This book by Andrea Pinkney helps kids understand the concept of peaceful protest. For grades 1-3.
    Get it at Amazon, $6.80
  • Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories 6 of 10
    Freedom's Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories
    This chapter book by Ellen S. Levine tells the stories of those who fought for freedom as youngsters. It profiles 30 youth who contributed to the civil rights movement. Ages 10 and up.
    Get it at Amazon, $7.99
  • White Socks Only 7 of 10
    White Socks Only
    Evelyn Coleman's story of a young African American girl in segregation-era Mississippi allows children to see life through her eyes. Grades 2-4.
    Get it at Amazon, $6.99
  • The Civil Rights Movement for Kids 8 of 10
    The Civil Rights Movement for Kids
    This book by Mary C. Turck offers activities for hands-on learning about the civil rights movement. Grades 4-6.
    Get it at Amazon, $12.37
  • I Have a Dream 9 of 10
    I Have a Dream
    What better way to teach kids about King than through his own words? The illustrations in this book are a beautiful compliment to the words of the "I Have a Dream Speech," and a full recording is available on the attached CD.
    Get it at Amazon, $12.91
  • Back of the Bus 10 of 10
    Back of the Bus
    Kids can learn about the courageous actions of Rosa Parks in this story by Aaron Reynolds. Since it's told from the perspective of an African American child, they'll approach the issue of segration in terms they can understand.
    Get it at Amazon,$11.55

More by Mary Lauren

Navigating the Parent/Teacher Relationship: 10 Tips from Both Sides of the Classroom Door

7 Surprising Facts about Cold and Flu in Kids

 From Classroom to Playground: Why Recess is More than Just “Free Time” for Kids

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