5 Fun Facts (& 10 Amazing Books) About Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Rachel Slaff

5 Fun Facts (& 10 Amazing Books) About Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Civil Rights trailblazer. He is perhaps one of the most famous men in American History and his legacy lives on to this day! Of course we want our children to know and learn about this great man, but topics like racism and segregation will likely go over their heads. Here are five facts you can teach your children about Dr. King now, as well as 10 amazing and approachable books about him!


1. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t just become the leader of the civil right movement: He helped to start it.


In response to Rosa Parks’ famous refusal to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger, King led the black community in Montgomery, Alabama, in the first nonviolent civil rights demonstration in the United States in 1955. Their bus boycott lasted for 382 days (that’s more than a year of finding another way to get to work!), until the United States Supreme Court ruled that laws segregating buses were unconstitutional.


2. In his efforts to fight segregation and inequality, King traveled more than six million miles and spoke more than 2,500 times.


As he noted in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (read the full text) King served as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which had more than 80 affiliated organizations throughout the South. Why not just telephone, instead of constantly being on the road? “I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham,” King wrote. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


3. He was a preacher, an orator, a community organizer—and a dad.


Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott King had four children: Yolanda Denise, Martin Luther III, Dexter Scott and Bernice Albertine. He gave them a beautiful shout-out in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech: “I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”


4. King didn’t just focus on civil rights.


In 1966, he began a campaign against poverty and urban inequality. A follower of Gandhi’s non-violent principles, King also objected to the United States’ participation in the Vietnam War. And it was his support of a sanitation workers’ strike that took him to Memphis, Tennessee, where he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.


5. MLK is the only non-president with a national holiday in his honor.


Since Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday, your kids likely have off from school. Think about volunteering together in MLK’s honor.


Check out these 10 books for kids about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., below!

1 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

I am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr.


This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great—the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. In this new board book format, the very youngest readers can learn about one of America's icons in the series's signature lively, conversational way.

2 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

I am Martin Luther King, Jr.


This lively, New York Times Bestselling biography series inspires kids to dream big, one great role model at a time. You’ll want to collect each book.

3 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world's most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life.

4 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

National Geographic Readers: Martin Luther King, Jr.


National Geographic Readers are educational, high-interest, and comprehensive for children. In this title, readers will learn about the fascinating life and legacy civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

5 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.


Born in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up to become a civil rights leader whose philosophy and practice of nonviolent civil disobedience helped African Americans win many battles for equal rights. Young readers will learn how his interest in equality was sparked by experiences in his childhood, and how his legacy shaped modern America.

6 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

My First Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man. His words changed the way people thought, and his actions spurred them on to change the world. With simple, lyrical text and bold, kid-friendly illustrations, this book introduces Dr. King to the youngest readers and inspires them to change the world.

7 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

I Have a Dream


From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King: “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing "I Have a Dream" speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.”

8 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.?


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 25 when he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was soon organizing black people across the country in support of the right to vote, desegregation, and other basic civil rights. With clearly written text that explains this tumultuous time in history and 80 black-and-white illustrations, this Who Was?? celebrates the vision and the legacy of a remarkable man.

9 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You


Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King's life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherford's poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives.

10 of 10 Image Credits: Amazon

The Story of Martin Luther King Jr.


An approachable way to introduce young children to this civil rights trailblazer.