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Six Read Aloud Books for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Six Read Aloud Books for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most important figures in the American Civil Rights Movement.

To help your class understand, discuss, and reflect on the many achievements of this American hero, check out this FREE Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Resources Pack from Edmentum. These downloadable resources include critical-thinking questions, lesson plans, fact sheets, activities, and a poster to hang in your classroom, specifically created for both lower and upper elementary students.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day offers educators the opportunity to not only look back on the positive changes that were brought about through the American Civil Rights movement, but also to discuss the importance of continuing to work toward racial justice and equality. To help you tackle this topic, here are a few age-appropriate read alouds to share with your students:

 Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop

Memphis, Martin, And the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we often remember Dr. King for his famous speech, but his life and legacy touched the lives of so many people in many ways. This picture book tells the story of a nine-year-old girl who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s final stand for justice before his assassination - when her father, a sanitation worker, participated in the protest.


My Uncle Martin's Big Heart

My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart By Angela Farris Watkins

My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart is a story about love: love between a young girl and her uncle, and all the love she sees her uncle share—with his family members, with his church congregation, and with all people. In this inspiring narrative about Martin Luther King Jr.—told by his niece—young readers will discover the story of the man behind the civil rights hero and activist, one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century.


Child of the Civil Rights Movement

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Sheldon

Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young, brings a child’s unique perspective to an important chapter in America’s history. Paula grew up in the deep south, in a world where white Americans had privileges black Americans did not. With an activist father and a community of leaders surrounding her, including Uncle Martin (Martin Luther King, Jr.), Paula watched and listened to the struggles, eventually joining with her family—and thousands of others—in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.


I am Martin Luther King Jr

I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer

Even as a child, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by the terrible and unfair way African-American people were treated. When he grew up, he decided to do something about it—peacefully, with powerful words. He helped gather people together for nonviolent protests and marches, and he always spoke up about loving other human beings and doing what’s right. He spoke about the dream of a kinder future, and bravely led the way toward racial equality in America.


I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation’s history. His words paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson’s illustrations give his message a visual element unlike any other.


Counting on Community

Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara

While this book does not directly discuss the life of Dr. King, it does celebrate a fundamental message he endorsed about celebrating our communities and the part we all play within them. Counting up from one stuffed piñata to ten hefty hens–and always counting on each other–children are encouraged to recognize the value of their community, the joys inherent in healthy eco-friendly activities, and the agency they possess to make change. A broad and inspiring vision of diversity is told through stories in words and pictures. And of course, there is a duck to find on every page!


Looking for more fun ways to bring history to life in your class? Check out this blog from Edmentum with online videos and biographical resources that can help you bring the life and legacy of Dr. King to your students.