Our classrooms are filled with heroes in the making, which is why it’s so important to nurture and encourage kids to dream big and follow their hearts. What better way to do that than to introduce them to one of the most influential and inspiring people in history? It’s never too early to share the powerful story and legacy of this incredible man, which is why we’ve put together this list of captivating Martin Luther King, Jr. books for kids of all ages. Remember—these great books are for every day, not just Martin Luther King Day!
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Martin Luther King Jr. Books for Elementary School
1. I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer & Christopher Eliopoulos
Perfect for younger students, this picture book biography tells the story of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. This book shares the timeline of his history and childhood moments that inspired him.
2. When Martin Luther King Jr. Wore Roller Skates by Mark Andrew Weakland & Patrick Ballesteros
What was Martin Luther King Jr. like as a little kid? This heartwarming and playful story shares a glimpse into a childhood filled with roller skating and football to help younger readers connect with a historic figure who will inspire them to want to achieve greatness.
3. I am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer & Christopher Eliopoulos
What makes a hero? This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that make our heroes great—the traits that kids can also find within themselves! This book will help even the very youngest readers learn about one of America’s most influential icons.
4. My Little Golden Book About Martin Luther King Jr. by Bonnie Bader & Sue Cornelison
This Little Golden Book biography is the perfect introduction to nonfiction for young kids and captures the essence of Martin Luther King, Jr. for the littlest readers. Readers will learn how MLK was shaped by his childhood in segregated Atlanta and in his father’s church and went on to become one of the most powerful voices in this nation’s history.
5. Good Night Martin Luther King Jr. by Adam Gamble, Mark Jasper, and Julissa Mora
This installment in the popular Good Night Our World series introduces kids to the iconic civil rights leader’s childhood, education, and family members, as well as the Great March on Washington, speeches, peaceful protests, Rosa Parks and the bus boycott, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and more.
6. Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Lisbeth Kaiser and Stanley Chow
This board book biography offers the chronology and themes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s meaningful life in just a few sentences per page. The eye-catching illustrations are sure to captivate young readers and adults alike.
A great way to encourage students to express themselves creatively, this set of coloring pages introduces Martin Luther King, Jr. to younger students. Each poster contains MLK quotes that reflect peace and love.
8. Holly Celebrates MLK Day by Kimberly Kendall-Drucker
Holly absolutely adores a celebration, because all her days are Holly-Days! She especially enjoys Martin Luther King Day, because she spends the day gathering her friends and marching in the MLK Day parade to honor Dr. King’s service and sacrifice.
9. Martin Luther King Jr. by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Author), Mai Ly Degnan (Illustrator)
Discover the childhood experiences that led Martin Luther King Jr. to become an inspiring minister and civil rights activist. After facing injustice and discrimination at a young age, little Martin promised himself he’d fight against injustice using the most powerful weapon of all—his words.
10. Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford & James E. Ransome
“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.” This captivating and moving book features a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King’s life alongside a modern classroom as the students learn about him. 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.
11. My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr by Martin Luther King III & AG Ford
What was it like growing up as a son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? This picture book memoir written by Martin Luther King III provides insight into one of history’s most fascinating families and the special bond between father and son.
12. The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Johnny Ray Moore
Ideal for very young readers, this sweet little board book tells how Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up, became a minister, and worked to end segregation in America.
13. What Was the March on Washington? by Kathleen Krull
On August 28, 1963, as Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, more than 200,000 people gathered in Washington, DC, to demand equal rights for all races. With black-and-white artwork throughout and sixteen pages of photographs, this book brings that incredible moment to life.
14. The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Christine Platt
Before Martin Luther King, Jr. became one of the most important figures in American history, he was a dedicated, smart little boy who loved to learn. This book helps kids explore how MLK went from being a kid with a dream to an inspiring leader who made America a better place for everyone.
15. Martin Luther King Jr. by Inspired Inner Genius
Courage, honor, and unlimited possibilities take center stage in this kid-friendly biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Beautifully illustrated and written like a storybook, this addition to your library also includes a gallery and glossary.
16. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport & Bryan Collier
Through his own words, this picture book shares the life and message of Martin Luther King, Jr. This biography contains quotes from some of the most beloved speeches of one of the most gifted and influential speakers of our time interwoven with a stunning collage art combining remarkable watercolor paintings with vibrant patterns and textures.
17. I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Kadir Nelson
Experience history with this picture book of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s best-known speech, including an audio CD. From 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.”
These high-resolution coloring pages introduce kids to key events, people, and places that were important for the civil rights movement in the United States. Also find interesting “Did You Know?” trivia with surprising information about how he won the Nobel Peace Prize, a 381-day bus boycott, and much more!
19. My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris & Chris Soentpiet
Renowned educator Christine King Farris, older sister of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., collaborated with celebrated illustrator Chris Soentpiet to tell the inspirational story of how one boyhood experience inspired a movement that would change the world as we know it.
20. A Place to Land by Barry Wittenstein & Jerry Pinkney
As a new generation of activists demands an end to racism, A Place to Land reflects on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the movement that it galvanized. Much has been written about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1963 March on Washington, but how much do we know about how he came to write it? This book tells the story.
21. National Geographic Readers: Martin Luther King, Jr. by Kitson Jazynka
In this level three biography, difficult concepts are made understandable and transitioned into a more approachable manner. This includes the use of sidebars, timetables, diagrams, and fun facts to hold the interest of the young reader.
22. Free At Last: The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Angela Bull
Level 4 readers’ Free at Last! is a biography of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who encouraged nonviolent protest to fulfill his dream of an America where people would be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.
23. Martin Luther King Jr.: A Peaceful Leader by Sarah Albee & Chin Ko
Geared for kids who read on their own, but still need a little help, this book offers an introduction to the life of civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is introduced in this early reader biography, which combines a traditional narrative with historical photographs at the back, complete with a timeline, illustrations, and interesting facts.
24. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington by Frances E. Ruffin & Stephen Marchesi
On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people flocked to the nation’s capital by plane, bus, car, and even on roller-skates. The shared goal? To speak out against segregation and to demand equal rights for everyone. Told with a wonderful immediacy, this book captures the spirit of this landmark day in American history and brings Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to vivid life for kids.
25. Dream March by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson & Sally Wern Comport
Set against Dr. King’s historic march on Washington in the summer of 1963, a moving story and powerful illustrations combine to remember not only one of America’s most celebrated leaders but also one of America’s most celebrated moments.
Martin Luther King Jr. Books for Middle & High School
26. Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story by Martin Luther King & Clayborne Carson
Comprehensive and intimate, Stride Toward Freedom emphasizes the collective nature of the first successful large-scale act of nonviolent resistance in America: the Montgomery bus boycott. A young Dr. King wrote this book, which includes his experiences learning from fellow activities, Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin, just two years after the groundbreaking event.
27. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
This stunning novel follows Justyce McAllister, a good kid, honor student, and loyal friend. When police officers put him in handcuffs, though, everything changes. 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.
28. Martin Luther King Jr.: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History
While the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. was tragically cut short, his legacy lives on. Through nonviolent direct action and love, he helped pioneer the civil rights movement and changed the world. This book provides a look at his early life, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a brush with death, the March on Washington, and so much more.
29. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Clayborne Carson
Written in his own words, this history-making autobiography tells the story of Martin Luther King, a mild-mannered, inquisitive child and student who chafed under and eventually rebelled against segregation as a young minister, husband, and father. This book also offers King’s seldom disclosed views on some of the world’s greatest and most controversial figures, including John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mahatma Gandhi, and Richard Nixon.
30. A Time to Break Silence by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Walter Dean Myers
The first collection of King’s essential writings for high school students and young people, A Time to Break Silence, presents Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most important writings and speeches which have been carefully selected by teachers across a variety of disciplines. Arranged thematically in five parts, the collection includes nineteen selections, including “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream,” as well as lesser-known pieces such as “The Sword that Heals” and “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?”
31. I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This fortieth-anniversary edition honors Martin Luther King Jr.’s courageous dream and his immeasurable contribution. As Coretta Scott King says in her foreword, “This collection includes many of what I consider to be my husband’s most important writings and orations.” In addition to the famed keynote address, readers will find the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the essay “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” and his last sermon, “I See the Promised Land.”
32. My Life With Martin Luther King, Jr. by Coretta Scott King
In the words of Coretta Scott King, the widow of the dynamic and beloved civil rights leader, this book recounts the history of the movement and offers an inside look at Dr. King, his sermons and speeches, her relationship to him, their children and family life, and more.
33. Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr.
This is the most comprehensive, must-read narrative from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressing civil rights. His widow, Coretta Scott King, wrote, “I believe it is because this book best explains the central element of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence. His belief in a divine, loving presence that binds all life.” The insight luminously conveyed in this classic text hints at a personal transformation at the root of social justice. Dr. King states, “By reaching into and beyond ourselves and tapping the transcendent moral ethic of love, we shall overcome these evils.”
34. Why We Can’t Wait by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Jesse Jackson
In this remarkable book—winner of the Nobel Peace Prize—Dr. King recounts the story of Birmingham in vivid detail, tracing the history of the struggle for civil rights back to its beginnings and looking to the future. Above all, Dr. King offers an eloquent and penetrating analysis of the events and pressures that propelled the civil rights movement from lunch counter sit-ins and prayer marches to the forefront of American consciousness.
35. All Labor Has Dignity by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Michael K. Honey
Dr. King had a dream of economic equality and spoke out about labor rights and justice. Gathered in one volume for the first time, the majority of these speeches will be new to most readers and begins with King’s lectures to unions in the 1960s, including addresses made during his Poor People’s Campaign.
36. My Life with Charles Billups and Martin Luther King by Rene Billups Baker & Keith D. Miller
Despite being a pivotal leader during the climax of the entire civil rights movement, little has been said about Charles Billups—until now. Daughter, Rene Billups Baker, relates his torture by the Ku Klux Klan and reveals his participation in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s key strategy sessions at the Gaston Motel.
37. Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Vincent Harding & Coretta Scott King
In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., rented a house in Jamaica and isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement as he labored over his final manuscript. In this prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America’s future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, asserting that humankind has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.
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