By: Emily Richardson, Youth Programming Associate
This year, we celebrate what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 87th birthday. Such a celebration offers the perfect opportunity to begin a discussion with children of any age on civil rights issues, race, and diversity. Below are a few books that might aid in the learning process.
Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Desmond Tutu
While riding his new bicycle Desmond is hurt by the mean word yelled at him by a group of boys, but he soon learns that hurting back will not make him feel any better.
The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss
The Soccer Fence by Phil Bildner
Each time Hector watches white boys playing soccer in Johannesburg, South Africa, he dreams of playing on a real pitch one day. After the fall of apartheid, when he sees the 1996 African Cup of Nations team, he knows that his dream can come true.
I am the World by Charles Smith
Illustrations and rhyming text celebrate the diversity of cultures, languages, countries, and people of the world.
Every Human Has Rights by National Geographic
Poetry of the sixteen winners of the ePals Human Rights Writing Contest reflects the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Molly Bannaky by Alice McGill
Relates how Benjamin Banneker’s grandmother journeyed from England to Maryland in the late seventeenth century, worked as an indentured servant, began a farm of her own, and married a freed slave.
Civil Rights Movement for Kids: A History with 21 Activities by Mary Turck
Describes the struggle for civil rights for African-Americans in the 1950s and 1960s and profiles important civil rights leaders. Includes suggested activities.
The Little Rock Nine by Rachel Tisdale
The Dream of Martin Luther King by Liz Gogerly
Provides an overview of Martin Luther King’s life and accomplishments, describes the events surrounding his assassination, and discusses his impact on the American people and American society.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
In 1943, during the German occupation of Denmark, ten-year-old Annemarie learns how to be brave and courageous when she helps shelter her Jewish friend from the Nazis.
Iggie’s House by Judy Blume
When a black family with three children moves into the white neighborhood, eleven-year-old Winnie learns the difference between being a good neighbor and being a good friend.
Revolution by Deborah Wiles
It’s 1964 in Greenwood, Mississippi, and Sunny’s town is being invaded by people from up north who are coming to help people register to vote. Her personal life isn’t much better, as a new stepmother, brother, and sister are crowding into her life, giving her little room to breathe.–From publisher description.
The Watsons go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.