Every January, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We often want to reduce Dr. King to inspiring quotes we can repost on social media, but he was so much more than an inspired speaker. He was a leader and a force for change, and it’s important to study his entire life and work.
This list includes my absolute favorite picture books about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that I’ve shared with both classrooms and my own children. However, I urge you: please don’t let Dr. King be the only influential African-American leader you study! Dr. King’s legacy is best understood within the greater context of the civil rights movement, which was made up of many brave men and women. These books are a great place to start, but don’t let them be where you finish.
7 Picture Books About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler — I’ve mentioned before how much we enjoy this series, and the biography of Dr. King is especially good. A straightforward examination of his life and his role in the civil rights movement., and why we still honor his memory today.
Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport — This gorgeous book uses Dr. King’s own words to tell the story of his life. This is a great read both for the beautiful style of storytelling and for Bryan Collier’s stunning illustrations. Dr. King is no longer with us, but this book keeps his big words alive.
As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King, Jr. and and Abraham Joshua Herschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom by Richard Michelson — An African-American Baptist pastor and a Polish Rabbi may seem like unlikely friends, but Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Herschel had both experienced injustice and discrimination. This book tells the story of their friendship, and how they united to walk together in the 1965 civil rights march in Alabama.
The Cart That Carried Martin by Eve Bunting — I love this book, but I can’t get through it without sobbing. The story of Dr. King’s life is told starting with his death, following the cart that carried his casket as it made its way through the streets of Atlanta. A beautiful story that is also available as a DVD.
My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringgold — I absolutely adore Faith Ringgold’s books, and this one is no exception. The narrator has a dream about Dr. King that illustrates his life and the impact he had on the world. A beautiful reminder that every good thing starts with a dream.
I Have a Dream by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — This unique book takes the words of Dr. King’s famous speech and pairs it with illustrations from 13 artists who have won the Coretta Scott King award. The end result is a breathtaking book that shows the true beauty of Dr. King’s dream.
The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Johnny Ray Moore – Even the youngest readers can begin to learn about Dr. King and his fight for equality. This board book explains Dr. King’s importance in a way even preschoolers can understand. It’s never too early to start teaching our children the importance of justice and compassion.