Martin’s Big Words: The Life Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Doreen Rappaport)

Hello everyone! It’s Friday, so we are continuing our Black History Month series with today’s book, Martin’s Big Words: The Life Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier.

This picture book biography of Dr. King uses the theme of his “big words,” i.e. his powerful writings and orations, to trace his story; from his roots as a pastor’s son growing up in the Jim Crow South, to a young activist advocating peaceful protest during the Montgomery bus boycott, to his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, to his tragic death in Memphis. Throughout, excerpts of his writing and speeches are quoted to emphasize his message of justice, equality, civil rights, and change through strength of love, not violence.

This is a great primer for children to learn about Dr. King’s life and work. It’s simplified enough that younger readers will not feel overwhelmed, and the quotes it features are ones with universal concepts that little bookworms can understand (focusing on justice, love, peace, equality, etc). I especially like that it started his story as a child, so little ones can more easily identify with his journey as he grows. But the book is still honest enough that it confronts the murder of Dr. King (tactfully), and the legacy he left behind. Collier’s illustrations are, of course, gorgeous (he was also the illustrator of last week’s BHM book, I, Too, Am America). The length is fine for baby bookworms, and JJ liked it very much. A fantastic kidlit biography with some beautiful art and a powerful message about the right to equality, the courage of one’s convictions, and the power of words. Baby Bookworm approved!

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