On January 20, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. The holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. It’s a time to commemorate the timeless values he exemplified – courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service – as well as the forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his leadership. It’s especially important for the young to learn about Dr. King’s character and contributions and the power of words. We recommend the following books for education and inspiration for all ages.
Visit The King Center’s site here for more information on this year’s commemoration.
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Afterword by Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.
Martin Luther King’s classic exploration of the events and forces behind the Civil Rights Movement—including his Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.
STRENGTH TO LOVE: SERMONS FROM STRENGTH TO LOVE AND OTHER PREACHINGS by Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King
The classic collection of Dr. King’s sermons that fuse his Christian teachings with his radical ideas of love and nonviolence as a means to combat hate and oppression.
“IN A SINGLE GARMENT OF DESTINY”: A GLOBAL VISION OF JUSTICE by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Too many people continue to think of Dr. King only as “a southern civil rights leader” or “an American Gandhi,” thus ignoring his impact on poor and oppressed people around the world. “In a Single Garment of Destiny” is the first book to treat King’s positions on global liberation struggles through the prism of his own words and activities.
Part of The King Legacy series which encompasses Dr. King’s most important writings, including sermons, orations, lectures, and prayers.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: A LIFE by Marshall Frady
Marshall Frady, the reporter who became the unofficial chronicler of the civil rights movement, here re-creates the life and turbulent times of its inspirational leader. Deftly interweaving the story of King’s quest with a history of the African American struggle for equality, Frady offers fascinating insights into his subject’s magnetic character, with its mixture of piety and ambition. He explores the complexities of King’s relationships with other civil rights leaders, the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, who conducted a relentless vendetta against him. The result is a biography that conveys not just the facts of King’s life but the power of his legacy.
DADDY KING: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Martin Luther King Sr.
From coming of age under poverty and the looming threat of racial violence to preaching from the Ebenezer pulpit for forty years, King, Sr., candidly reveals his life inside the civil rights movement, illustrating the profound influence he had on his son.
REDEMPTION: MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’S LAST 31 HOURS by Joseph Rosenbloom
An “immersive, humanizing, and demystifying” (Charles Blow, New York Times) look at the final hours of Dr. King’s life as he seeks to revive the non-violent civil rights movement and push to end poverty in America. Redemption draws on dozens of interviews by the author with people who were immersed in the Memphis events, features recently released documents from Atlanta archives, and includes compelling photos. Also revealed is what his assassin, James Earl Ray, was doing in Memphis during the same time and how a series of extraordinary breaks enabled Ray to construct a sniper’s nest and shoot King.
FOR YOUNGER READERS
MY LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK ABOUT MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. by Bonnie Bader, Sue Cornelison
This Little Golden Book captures the essence of Martin Luther King, Jr. for the littlest readers. They’ll learn how his childhood in segregated Atlanta—and in his father’s church—shaped the future civil rights leader. And they’ll gain a clear understanding of the way he became an eloquent, powerful voice for African Americans.
DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone
Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
MEMPHIS, MARTIN, AND THE MOUNTAINTOP: THE SANITATION STRIKE OF 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan, R. Gregory Christie
A 2019 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
This historical fiction picture book presents the story of nine-year-old Lorraine Jackson, who in 1968 witnessed the Memphis sanitation strike—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final stand for justice before
DK LIFE STORIES: MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. by Laurie Calkhoven, Charlotte Ager
Martin Luther King Jr. will always be remembered for his famous “I have a dream” speech, which he gave during the March on Washington in 1963. But his life before and after that big event, and his other enormous contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, largely go unspoken. In this biography for kids ages 8-12, learn all about MLK – from his early family life and experiences in education, to his untimely death and the worldwide mourning and riots that followed.
I am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer, Christopher Eliopoulos
The littlest readers can learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., in this board book version of the New York Times bestselling Ordinary People Change the World biography.
MY DREAM OF MARTIN LUTHER KING by Faith Ringgold
Now in Dragonfly–from the acclaimed creator of the Caldecott Honor Book Tar Beach comes a personal and captivating portrait of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
For more information on these and related titles visit MLKJR