MLK Day for Kids

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Observed on the third Monday of January, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day recognizes the life and work of one America's best known civil rights activists.  Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15th, 1929, and would go on to become one of the most prominent leaders of the civil rights movement, overseeing the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, organizing nonviolent protests across the south, and helping lead the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.  King received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom nine years after his assassination in 1968.

During his lifetime and beyond, Martin Luther King, Jr. has become a symbol of civil rights and nonviolent activism.  His work, along with the work of many other incredible activists, helped usher in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 — as contemporary activists are still pushing for change today.

Protest with signs

One essential piece of the passing down of these generational civil rights projects is education.  We must pass on the stories, the struggles, the legacies, of those who came before us.  We must open conversations with younger generations to share tales of the past and empower growing children to fight for the future they believe in.

There are many ways to pass on these stories & begin these conversations, but if you're interested in introducing your kids to these topics through literature, we're including some of our civil rights book recommendations below.  These are stories about activists and anti-racists; resilience and hope.  And as always, these books are just the beginning.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" —Martin Luther King, Jr.

 


 

Picture Books

Our featured picks.  Find even more at the bottom of the page

A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara Because of You, John Lewis by Andrea Davis Pinkney, ill. Keith Henry Brown I Am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges, ill. Nikkolas Smith Justice Rising by Katheryn Russell-Brown, ill. Kim Holt A Place to Land by Barry Wittenstein, ill. Jerry Pinkney Stacey Abrams and the Fight to Vote by Traci N. Todd, ill. Laura Freeman Standing in the Need of Prayer by Carole Boston Weatherford, ill. Frank Morrison

 


 

Chapter Books & Early Readers

For ages 6-9

Dream March by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson I am Rosa Parks by Rosa Parks & Jim Haskins John Lewis by Denise Lewis Patrick Juneteenth: Our Day of Freedom by Sharon Dennis Wyeth She Persisted: Coretta Scott King by Kelly Starling Lyons & Chelsea Clinton Stamped (for Kids) by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi

 


 

Middle Grade Books

For ages 9-12

The Antiracist Kid by Tiffany Jewell Black Trailblazers by Bijan Bayne Call Him Jack by Yohuru Williams & Michael G. Long This Is Your Time by Ruby Bridges What Is Black Lives Matter? by Lakita Wilson & Who HQ Who Was MLK? by Bonnie Bader & Who HQ Who Was Rosa Parks? by Yona Zeldis McDonough & Who HQ The Young Activist's Dictionary of Social Justice by duopress labs

 


 

For Parents:

Resources for raising antiracist kids

How to Raise an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi Raising Antiracist Children by Britt Hawthorne & Natasha Yglesias

 


 

Even more great picture books:

 

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water By Nikole Hannah-Jones, Renée Watson, Nikkolas Smith (Illustrator) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780593307359
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Kokila - November 16th, 2021

Because Claudette By Tracey Baptiste, Tonya Engel (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Tracey Baptiste, Tonya Engel (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780593326404
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Books - February 1st, 2022

Follow Your Dreams, Little One By Vashti Harrison Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780316475150
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: LB Kids - September 29th, 2020

I am John Lewis (Ordinary People Change the World) By Brad Meltzer, Christopher Eliopoulos (Illustrator) Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780593405949
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Rocky Pond Books - January 17th, 2023

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (A Big Words Book #1) By Doreen Rappaport, Bryan Collier (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Doreen Rappaport, Bryan Collier (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9780786807147
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - October 1st, 2001

Maya’s Song By Renée Watson, Bryan Collier (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Renée Watson, Bryan Collier (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9780062871589
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins - September 20th, 2022

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 By Alice Faye Duncan, R. Gregory Christie (Illustrator) Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781629797182
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Calkins Creek - August 28th, 2018

On Her Wings: The Story of Toni Morrison By Jerdine Nolen, James E. Ransome (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Jerdine Nolen, James E. Ransome (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781534478527
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books - September 27th, 2022

The Undefeated By Kwame Alexander, Kadir Nelson (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Kwame Alexander, Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781328780966
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Versify - April 2nd, 2019