5 Kid Books About MLK Jr. & Other Civil Rights Heroes

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Jan. 15

By Macaroni KID January 8, 2024

Are you looking to share the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement with your kids? We've put together a list of 5 books handpicked by the National Civil Rights Museum in Nashville that are inspiring and a great way to introduce kids to the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

These stories are all about courage and hope. You'll find tales about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Audrey Faye Hendricks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and others who made a big difference in history. Join us in exploring these fantastic books, and check out the National Civil Rights Museum's full list of recommended reads to help kids understand this important chapter in American history.

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

Recommended for ages 5-8

About the book: This biography introduces young children to the life and powerful message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by drawing upon his own words. Dr. King, a renowned and impactful orator, left an indelible mark on history. Doreen Rappaport skillfully incorporates excerpts from his beloved speeches to narrate his life journey and significant contributions in a straightforward and accessible manner.

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist
By Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Recommended for ages 5-12

About the book: Audrey Faye Hendricks, a determined nine-year-old, aspired to live her life like any other child. When she overheard adults discussing the abolishment of segregation laws in Birmingham, her unwavering spirit led her to speak out. As she absorbed the preacher's eloquent words, she sat upright in her chair, captivated. When the plan unfolded – picketing those white-owned stores, marching to protest unjust laws, and filling the jails – Audrey stepped forward with unwavering resolve, declaring, "I'll do it!" Her journey would lead her to jail, but Audrey Faye Hendricks exhibited remarkable courage and boldness, making her story an inspiring testament to a child's role in the Civil Rights Movement.

I Have a Dream
Words by Martin Luther King Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Recommended for: 1st to 5th grade

About the book: Embark on a historical journey through this picture book's pages that commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s renowned speech, complete with an accompanying audio CD. Recognized as a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, it is designed to inspire young readers.

By Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Recommended for ages 4 to 8

About the book: Half a century after her historic act of refusing to surrender her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks remains a pivotal figure in the American civil rights movement. This tribute to Mrs. Parks commemorates her brave actions and the significant consequences that ensued.

The poignant words of acclaimed poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni blend seamlessly with the captivating cut-paper illustrations by Bryan Collier, offering a fresh and distinctive retelling of this important moment in history.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
By Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Recommended for grades 4 to 6

Through powerful poems and captivating collage illustrations, this award-winning book commemorates the remarkable life of Fannie Lou Hamer, a tireless advocate for equal voting rights.

In the face of relentless prejudice and brutality, including a severe beating that nearly claimed her life, Fannie Lou Hamer stood as a steadfast champion of civil rights. A central figure in the Freedom Summer of 1964, Ms. Hamer's speech at the Democratic National Convention, despite President Johnson's interference, was broadcast on national TV news, galvanizing the nation's support for the Freedom Democrats. The rich mixed-media artwork honors Fannie Lou Hamer's enduring legacy and delivers a message of hope, resolve, and resilience.