January 16 is Martin Luther King Day, a day dedicated to remembering the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. Here are some books for youth that spread the message of kindness, justice, and equality for which Dr. King fought his entire life.
All of Us by Kathryn Erskine, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
The world is made up of different countries, cultures, languages, and people, but when you really think about it, we are more similar than different. All of Us celebrates this with the help of lyrical text that travels the world. In the book, one kid starts playing with another kid and they invite a third one to play and then the three of them invite even more kids to join them as they play hopscotch, with each rectangle representing a continent. National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine shows young readers how the whole world is a community made up of people who are more similar than we are different. Her words are accompanied by the stunning, cinematic art of Alexandra Boiger, the illustrator of the She Persisted series, this is the perfect read-aloud at bedtime or for story time. Preschool-2
Malala Speaks Out by Malala Yousafzai, Illustrated by: Yael Frankel
Martin Luther King’s famous speech which begins with “I have a dream…” is remembered to this day for its message of peace and the powerful impact it had on a nation in 1963. Fifty-one years later, in 2014, Malala Yousafzai, a shy but courageous seventeen-year-old, became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala won the Prize for becoming a world leader in education rights, a cause she championed since she was fifteen years old when she was attacked by the Taliban for defending girls’ rights to education. The speech Malala delivered during her acceptance of the Prize is as memorable as Dr. King’s and echoes some of the themes he mentioned in his speech. Malala Speaks Out is the entirety of this speech in which Malala tells her story — the story of 66 million girls around the world deprived of education. The book includes thoughtful, monochromatic illustrations by Yael Frankel and an analysis written that provides context about Malala’s early life in Swat Valley, Pakistan, and examines what makes her call to action so powerful. Grades 4-7
More Than Money: How Economic Inequality Affects Everything by Hadley Dyer & Mitchell Bernard, illustrated by Paul Gill
Financial or economic inequality is everywhere; it affects everybody, and it is all-pervasive, in that it determines where we live, what type of housing we can afford, what we can eat, where we can study, what healthcare we can get, and so on and so forth. This inequality is the cause of the most pressing issues in the world today, such as homelessness, poverty, and hunger. More Than Money: How Economic Inequality Affects Everything introduces this complex – but important – topic to students in a way that is easy to understand and discuss. It breaks down the reasons why the rich seem to be getting richer while the rest of society is struggling to just get by. With vivid, energetic illustrations, the use of graphs and charts, and tips for how to investigate topics of interest, students are exposed to the most important issues and ideas in economics to better understand the consequences of inequality. Grades 7-12