Friday, January 17, 2014

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday

There is no shortage of excellent children's books about Martin Luther King Jr. Young readers wanting to learn more about the late civil rights leader should definitely check these out: 

I'm a fan of everything created by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney;  Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America  is one of their best.  Beginning with Benjamin Banneker and ending with Barack Obama, this remarkable team tells the stories of ten history-making African-American men through intimate stories and extraordinary illustrations. 

There are several picture books centered on King's "I Have a Dream" speech, but Kadir Nelson's recent edition is the most magnificent.  Not only is King's speech brilliantly illustrated by Nelson's pictures, but a CD recording of the speech is also included.  

Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney's most recent volume, Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song is a fantastic dual-biography of King and Mahalia Jackson.  The importance of their Christian faith is clearly depicted.  Anyone looking for a read aloud for elementary school children should definitely consider this beautiful picture book (it ends with the March on Washington). 

Martin's Big Words  is remarkable in that Doreen Rappaport incorporates a great deal of King's own words into the narrative.  Striking illustrations and moving text make this one of the finest picture book biographies of King to date. 

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

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