Books to help children celebrate MLK Day

On January 15, we’ll celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s an opportunity to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, a civil rights leader who dedicated his life to speaking out against injustice, inequality, poverty and war.

To help young children understand the importance of Dr. King’s contributions, we’ve put together a short list of frequently recommended books you can read with them. Some of these were written by his family members, others feature words from his famous speeches, and others describe the impact his work had on our lives.

Here’s our list:

My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Martin Luther King III, illustrated by AG Ford

Dr. King’s namesake gives insights of what it was like growing up as the son of one of the most important men in American history.

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier

This Caldecott Honor Book describes how a childhood fascination with big words helped transform Dr. King into one of history’s most inspirational speakers.

I am Martin Luther King, Jr., by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

One of the stories that inspired the popular PBS KIDS show, “Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum,” this book imagines Dr. King’s childhood and what influenced him to dedicate his life to achieving racial equality.

Dream Big, Little One, by Vashti Harrison

This book focuses on 18 women of color, who, like Dr. King, broke through social barriers to help make life better for generations of girls and women to come.

That’s My Friend! By Lavaedeay and Khayla Lee, illustrated by Sisca Angreani

This joyful book underscores the important role we all play in embracing a diverse life.

One Love, by Cedalia Marley, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

The author, the eldest child of legendary reggae musician, Bob Marley, brings to life the words of one of his most famous songs. The story is about the amazing things that can happen when we all get together with one love in our hearts.

You can find more history and learning resources about Martin Luther King, Jr. online at:

The King Center

Why We Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Parents Magazine