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Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with Books

January 15, 2021 at 2:40 PM by

Since 1986, on the third Monday in January, Americans nationwide celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There are many ways to honor and celebrate the legacy of one of the most famous Civil Rights leaders. Celebrations happen across the country, including teach-ins, service projects, and remembrances. Kids and teens are out of school and many listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech from the March on Washington.
To help you further your understanding of and connection to Dr. King’s legacy and work, we put on our librarian hats and curated this list of recommended book titles and digital resources for all ages.  

We also invite you to read a statement on honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. written by the Director of the Kenosha Public Library. The Library also has put together a list of Dr. King's speeches and letters, which you can access here.

Books for Children

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo, Illustrated by Brian J. Pinkney
“Much more than a biography, this book is an examination of the principles set forth by the renowned civil rights leader. The author highlights King's most brilliant moments, which will help readers better appreciate his accomplishments.” -Publisher summary
Suggested for ages 3-6

Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by James Ransome
 "You can be a King. Stamp out hatred. Put your foot down and walk tall. You can be a King. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience. Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King's life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherfor's poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives.”-Publisher summary
Suggested for ages 5-8

March On!: The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World by Christine King Farris, Illustrated by London Ladd
“Having led thousands in a march for civil rights to the foot of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. made the most of the historical moment by giving a speech that would forever inspire people to continue to fight for change in the years ahead.”-Publisher summary
Suggested for ages 6-9

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Illustrated by Brian K. Pinkney
“In a rich embroidery of visions, musical cadence, and deep emotion, Andrea and Brian Pinkney convey the final months of Martin Luther King's life -- and of his assassination -- through metaphor, spirituality, and multilayers of meaning”-Publisher summary
Suggested for ages 9-12

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: the Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan, Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
“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.”-Publisher summary
Suggested for ages 9-12

Books for Teens

I See the Promised Land by Arthur Flowers, Illustrated by Manu Chitrakar
“African American writer, griot and blues singer Arthur Flowers and Indian scroll painter Manu Chitrakar combine their very distinctive storytelling traditions in an extraordinary jam session, creating this stunning graphic narrative-style biography of Martin Luther King Jr”-Publisher summary
Suggested for ages 12 and up

Dear Martin by Nic Stone
“Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And 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.”-Publisher summary
Suggested for ages 14 and up

The March Against Fear: the Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power by Ann Bausum
"Mississippi. 1966. On a hot June afternoon an African-American man named James Meredith set out to walk through his home state, intending to fight racism and fear with his feet. A seemingly simple plan, but one teeming with risk. Just one day later Meredith was shot and wounded in a roadside ambush. Within twenty-four hours, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, and other civil rights leaders had taken up Meredith's cause, determined to overcome this violent act and complete Meredith's walk.”-Publisher summary
Suggested for ages 14 and up

Book for Adults

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Clayborne Carlson
“Celebrated Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson is the director and editor of the Martin Luther King Papers Project; with thousands of King's essays, notes, letters, speeches, and sermons at his disposal, Carson has organized King's writings into a posthumous autobiography.”-Publisher summary

Martin Luther King, Jr. : the essential box set : the landmark speeches and sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
For the first time ever, twenty-four original recordings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from his iconic "I Have A Dream" speech to his stirring sermon "A Knock At Midnight, " are collected together in this treasured set. His landmark speeches that echoed around the world and the more intimate sermons from the churches where he carried out his ministry are just as moving and meaningful today as they were when the great orator first expressed them.

Redemption : Martin Luther King Jr.'s last 31 hours by Joseph Rosenbloom
Redemption is an intimate look at the last thirty-one hours and twenty-eight minutes of King’s life.

And still I rise : Black America since MLK : an illustrated chronology by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Kevin M. Burke
A companion book to the PBS series examines black history from the passage of the Civil Rights Act to the election of Barack Obama and describes the contradictions in the modern African-American community.