Moms Must Read
4 Books to Read for MLK Day

If you’re looking for a way to teach service to others, there’s no better method than through the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr.  In honor of his upcoming birthday on January 20, 2014, people are called upon to help each other.

Kid are not too young to understand about helping others.  I’ve found a few beautifully illustrated picture books that will help the little ones understand the importance of Martin Luther King’s legacy.

1.  I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson.


You might think that the famous “I have a dream” speech is too sophisticated for a child to understand but when adapted through the beautifully poignant  illustrations of Kadir Nelson, the 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.” Readers of all ages will enjoy reading or being read to; a tale of inspiration, hope, and an important piece of history. Once you fall in love with the illustrations, do check out Nelson’s other beautiful books about important civil rights issues.

Read More: Raisin’ In Minnesota:All the Colors in the Box; Talking to Kids About Race

2.  Child of the Movement by Paula Young Shelton,
Illustrated by Raul Colon.


childof crmovement


Paula Young was only a very young girl when Uncle Martin (Luther King, Jr) and her father, Andrew Young, organized the historic march from Selma to Washington, DC.  Paula’s explains the activities of segregation in the South from an innocent child’s perspective:  how is a child supposed to understand a place in which Whites could go but Blacks could not? A great addition to a classroom or home library and an easy way to teach civil rights to children.

Read more: Race and Racism: Why is it STILL too Hot to Handle? 

3. Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr


Want to know more about what shaped Martin Luther King, Jr into the great man he was?  Here’s your chance.  Big words follows a young Martin listening to his own father speak at church to a civil rights leader who was assassinated in a language fit for small children to understand.  Interspersed with the illustrations by Bryan Collier (who’s an award winning illustrator for titles that include  Barack Obama, John Lennon, and Rosa Parks) this picture biography should elicit powerful emotions for the reader.

Read more: Life Lessons: Bobby Rivers

4. This is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration
by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James Ransome


This is the Rope is a story of the Great Migration. And while not directly related to Martin Luther King, Jr there is an indirect correlation with the civil rights movement.  In the mid 19th century, approximately 1940-1970 millions of African American moved from the South to the North.  Heeding the call of better job opportunities, the ability to vote (men only) and lessened racial tensions, large numbers of African Americans and their families fled  the South.

The story of one family’s journey north during the Great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto a car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.

All children can identify with a jump rope; perhaps you have an old one from your grandmother in your garage.  And if so, what story about the past would it tell?

Read more: Single Mom Slice Of Life: Children And Church.. Do As I Say, Boys, Not As I Believe..


These children’s books are just a few of the many well written stores available.  In addition to reading about MLK day, why not participate in a day of service and answer the question: What are you doing in service of others?  Find out how you can help others at; what a great gift to give your children.


Pam Brown Margolis

Pam is the blogger behind An Unconventional Librarian.  When she is not reading and reviewing books, she is making YouTube videos, singing The Wiggles, and generally dreaming about coffee and cake.