All the best Picture Books about Martin Luther King, Jr. 12 excellent books for sharing his life and legacy with kids!
In the United States, the third Monday in January is a holiday to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Most kids have this day off from school, but even if they don’t, a lot of teachers will take time in January to teach about the Civil Rights Movement and how Dr. King contributed to the fight for equality.
Over the years, I’ve found that some of my children’s teachers do a better job of discussing this than others. To help supplement their activities and lessons at school, I like to make sure I have a good selection of excellent picture books about Martin Luther King Jr. at home that we can read and talk about together.
The famous “I have a dream” speech is a fine place to start, but I also want to make sure my kids really understand his legacy, why we needed the Civil Rights Movement, and why it’s still important.
There are a good number of picture books about Martin Luther King Jr., but these are the ones I consider the very best of the bunch.
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Picture Books About Martin Luther King Jr.
I have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Kadir Nelson | This book pairs powerful illustrations with Dr. King’s famous 1963 speech. Get the version with the cd and listen to speech too!
A Place to Land by Barry Wittenstein and Jerry Pinkney | This is a brand new favorite at our house (and it’s on our Caldecott list this year too). This book tells the story of how Dr. King wrote his famous speech. The art is magnificent.
Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson | This illustrated poem is not just about MLK, but also other great black leaders and heroes in America. It’s a quick but powerful read.
My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart by Angela Farris Watkins and Eric Velasquez | Angela, Dr. King’s niece, shares the joys of growing up with her famous uncle. This is an excellent book for helping young readers see the famous figure in a more personal setting.
I’ve Seen the Promised Land by Walter Dean Myers and Leonard Jenkins | This book gives a really good overview of both MLK’s life and the Civil Rights Movement.
Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier | This one picked up a slew of awards when it came out, and for good reason! This is a must read book.
As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March toward Freedom by Richard Michelson and Raul Colon | This book is great for making connections between different types of persecution and social injustice. It tells the story of the friendship between Dr. King, fighting for equality in the face of racial discrimination, and Rabbi Heschel who left Europe as a result of persecution.
Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison | A great book for showing kids what a difference they can make in the world. This one tells the story of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade of 1963.
Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford and James E. Ransome | This is a dual narrative showing key moments from Dr. King’s life alongside a modern class of students learning about him. This book teaches children how to stand up for right and make the world a better place.
Martin Rising: Requiem For a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney | This poetic picture book is a beautiful look at the last few months of Dr. King’s life. It ends with a beautiful tribute to his legacy.
My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringgold | This is a more abstract look at MLK, but so wonderful. Told from a child’s perspective, it’s a great opening for a discussion about love, kindness, and prejudice.
Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs (as told by his niece) by Angela Farris Watkins and Sally Wern Comport | Written by Dr. King’s niece, this book explains the 6 principles that guided his life. This is a wonderfully inspiring book!
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