To most children and adolescents, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is just another opportunity to miss a day of school. But for those that were alive during the turbulent time of the Civil Rights Movement in which Dr. King played a major role, it's a day to honor a man whose hopes and dreams for America helped people of all races and colors to strive for their own hopes and dreams. Each third Monday in January is a United States federal holiday that marks the anniversary of Dr. King's birth. He was born Jan. 15, 1929 and MLK Day is on Jan. 21 this year.
Children of all ages can learn about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through picture books, chapter books and books that include his writings and speeches. While the Examiner has provided book suggestions on this topic in the past, these books about MLK Day and Martin Luther King Jr. have all been released in the last few months. They are appropriate for readers of all ages and can help teens, pre-teens and even younger children learn more about why Dr. King is honored each January. In addition to just reading the following books, talk with children about the subject matter and perhaps take part in a local celebration or community project taking place on Jan. 21, 2013.
"I Am: Martin Luther King Jr." by Grace Norwich and Elisabeth Alba (Scholastic Paperbacks, Dec. 2012) Told in the first person, this book includes timelines, maps, illustrations and more.
Ages 6 an up
"What Was Your Dream, Dr. King?: And Other Questions About... Martin Luther King Jr." by Mary Kay Carson and Jim Madsen (Sterling Children's Books, Jan. 2013) Using a question and answer format, the author touches on segregation, the fight for equality and how Martin Luther King Jr. inspired an entire generation. Colorful illustrations help readers gain a better understanding of the text.
"National Geographic Readers: Martin Luther King, Jr." by Kitson Jazynka (National Geographic Children's Books, Dec. 2012) With all sorts of charts, maps, timelines and illustrations, there is plenty to grab kids' attention in this fact-filled book about the civil rights leader.
Ages 4 and up
"I've Seen the Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." by Walter Dean Myers and Leonard Jenkins (Amistad, Dec. 2012) Paintings illustrate this book by the author of such young adult books as "Monster" and "Kick." Highlighting Dr. King's spiritual beliefs and his non-violent methods to end racial discrimination, this book is still appropriate for those that may still need to have most books read to them.
"Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier (Hyperion Book CH, 2001) Although this book was released twelve years ago, no list of children's books about Dr. King is complete without it. This title is an Orbis Pictus Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Caldecott Honor Book for Illustration, ALA Notable Book, and is on the Blue Ribbon list of the Bulletin Center for Children's Books. Using quotes from MLK Jr.'s speeches and writings, the author and illustrator tell the story of his boyhood and his upbringing. Each event of his childhood made him into the person that would be a symbol for the fight to bring racial equality to the U.S.
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