A Voice of Hope: Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.

We celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 21 this year, and we are called to remember the way he spoke of hope and love and respect to America. He taught this country that truth, justice, and dignity are timeless values that must be upheld if we are to move forward together. The list below includes books that commemorate this man’s life and dream as we continue to try to make it a reality. For more information about this holiday, visit The King Center website.

To find more books about Martin Luther King Jr. or the Civil Rights era, try searching the catalog using a combination of subject terms like “juvenile fiction” for fiction books or “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books along with “King, Martin Luther, Jr.,” “Civil rights movements,” “segregation,” or other key words.

Bolden, Tonya.
M.L.K.: Journey of a King. 2006 (Biography: Chapter Book)
Separated into three parts, this large format biography tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and advocacy in the civil rights movement. With an easy to read format that includes pictures and sidebars to break up the text, readers will have no problems staying engaged in his amazing journey. Many historical black and white photographs are included, which add to the immersive experience and show readers what it was really like. An author’s note, timeline, sources, and index are included at the end, making this a comprehensive source on MLK’s life that readers will love to explore.
[S-Collection SB. K537b]

Clark-Robinson, Monica.
Let the Children March. 2018 (Fiction: Picture Book)
It’s 1963, and after hearing Martin Luther King Jr. speak, children in Birmingham, Alabama have volunteered to march. This evocative picture book shows us how these children wanted to fight for their civil rights and racial equality just like the adults in their lives. Using their voices to make a difference, young readers will be inspired to see that they too can participate in social justice movements to change the world.
[S-Collection SE. C559le, also in the CCB]

Duncan, Alice Faye.
Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968. 2018 (Picture Book)
Told from the point of view of 9-year-old Lorraine Jackson, readers learn about a part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s advocacy that is not often shared. Full page illustrations provide the backdrop for Lorraine’s memories about the sanitation strike that are told in little vignettes. With the inspirational idea that “dreamers don’t quit,” the historical facts of the march that MLK organized before his assassination in Memphis are presented in an accessible story format that focuses on Lorraine and her family, including her sanitation worker father. With a timeline of the strike and sources at the end of the book, this is a beautiful tribute to King’s life as well as how hard regular individuals fought for their rights.
[S-Collection Q. S. D9124me]

Farris, Christine King.
My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 2003 (Nonfiction: Picture Book)
Written by Martin’s sister Christine, we get to see MLK as a child and what he was like before he became the famous activist. Detailed and realistic illustrations bring their childhood to life, where we hear about how Martin pulled pranks with his brother and sister and his determination to fight for change. This picture book is a very accessible introduction to segregation and racism from the eyes of a child that also shares how important it is to stand up for what is right.
[S-Collection Q. S.323.092 F249m]

Greenberg, David.
A Tugging String: A Novel About Growing Up During the Civil Rights Era. 2008 (Fiction: Chapter Book)
Written by the son of Jack Greenberg, a civil rights lawyer who argued Brown v. Board, about growing up during this turbulent time, this fictional novel has real emotional impact. Duvy Greenberg is 12 and just trying to fit in. Meanwhile, Dorothy Milton is a black woman trying to register to vote in Alabama who reaches out to Martin Luther King Jr. for help. Despite his father’s career as a civil rights lawyer, this is the string that tugs on Duvy’s heart and opens his eyes to the racial inequality around him. Based on the Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March, the 8 pages of inset black and white historical photographs add to the reality and gravity of this story about standing up for what you believe in.
[S-Collection S. G8293tu]

Jackson, Linda Williams.
Midnight Without a Moon (Rose Lee Carter #1). 2017 (Historical Fiction: Chapter Book)
It’s 1955, and 13-year-old Rose Lee Carter dreams that there has to be something beyond the cotton fields of Mississippi, where she is living for the moment with her sharecropper grandparents. Everything suddenly changes when Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy in the next town over, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Rose comes to realize that she should be part of the movement that is fighting for equality. While Rose is a fictional character, Emmett Till’s trial was a spark that inspired people to fight for change and equality within the civil rights movement that Martin Luther King Jr. was helping to lead, and readers will root for her as she learns to fight for what is right.
[S-Collection S. J1359mi, also in the CCB]
Be sure to check out the sequel, A Sky Full of Stars, also in the S-Collection (S. J1359s)!

King, Martin Luther, Jr. & Kadir Nelson.
I Have a Dream. 2012 (Nonfiction: Picture Book)
This picture book takes the text of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech and pairs it with beautiful, full page illustrations of that historical day. It is a perfect way to share his words with a younger audience and provides a starting point for a discussion about MLK and his life. The thought-provoking images question segregation, equality, and justice and inspire readers with what King’s dream would look like as a reality. The full-text of his speech is included at the end for curious adult readers.
[S-Collection Q. S.323.092 K585i2012, also in the CCB]

Miller, Marilyn, Ellen Scordato, & Dan Tucker.
Words That Built a Nation: Voices of Democracy That Have Shaped America’s History. 2018 (Nonfiction)
Filled with inspiring words that have created this nation, this book is a must for readers who want to learn about the statements that have affected our country and the ideals we hold. From the Declaration of Independence to Brown v. Board, the March on Washington Address by Martin Luther King Jr., and Obama’s Speech on Race, readers will love to peruse this resource and learn about our history. The engaging format includes an introduction to each document, the famous words themselves, pictures – both illustrations and historical, a bottom bar explaining the history, about the author, and the response to the words. It is very accessible and informative – perfect for the curious mind.
[S-Collection S.973 M616w2018]

Rappaport, Doreen.
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 2001 (Biography: Picture Book)
A Caldecott Honor Book in 2002, this picture book biography is still notable today. Direct quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. are used to enhance and emphasize the hopeful message of everyone living together in harmony, and the multimedia illustrations are used to create powerful images that provoke thought and discussion. This celebration of his life is inspiring, and the timeline and additional sources in the back make this ideal for using with children who are learning about this influential man.
[S-Collection Q. SB. K53ra]

Weatherford, Carole Boston.
Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You. 2018 (Biography: Picture Book)
“You can be a king” – the inspirational refrain repeated throughout – helps share with children how they can spread love and fight for justice. With parallel story lines of a class learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and pivotal moments of his life, this book helps readers learn to see things from other people’s points of view and how important it is to treat them fairly. The simple watercolor paintings and short text make this an easy introduction to MLK and his dreams.
[S-Collection SB. K537w]

Separate is Never Equal: Brown vs. Board of Education

Classrooms in modern American schools look very different than they may have in the early 1950s — students today, who go to class with friends of all backgrounds, may not know that schools were once often segregated. We have the historic court case Brown vs. Board of Education to thank for that change! In May 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that, in cases of public education, separate institutions for black and white children are inherently unequal. This overturned their 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which decided that racial segregation was legal as long as equal services were rendered to each group. In Brown v. Board, the court ruled that even if both schools were “equal,” segregation was harmful and unconstitutional. While the process of integration was slow, it paved the way for the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. This bibliography lists fiction and non-fiction books about the Brown v. Board case as well as the process of school integration across the nation.

To find books about Brown vs. Board of Education, segregation, or integration, begin with a subject search of “juvenile literature” (for nonfiction) or “juvenile fiction” (for fiction). Add a subject search of “school integration” or “segregation in education.”
Or, combine your “juvenile” subject search with a keyword of “Brown v. Board of Education,” “integration,” “segregation,” or other “civil rights” terms.


Dudley, Mark E.
Brown v. Board of Education: School Desegregation. 1994.
The issues, the players, and the arguments involved in the historic Brown v. Board case are presented and explained.
[SSHEL S Collection S.344.730798 D865b]

Fireside, Harvey.
Brown v. Board of Education: Equal Schooling for All. 1994.
Brown v. Board of Education: Equal Schooling for All covers the events leading up to and the impact after the court’s decision.
[SSHEL S Collection S.344.730798 F514b]

Good, Diane L.
Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone. 2004.
Explains the history of segregation in the United States and cases that tested the law allowing “separate but equal” treatment, including the five cases that came together as Brown v. Board of Education.
[SSHEL S Collection S.344.73 G592b]

McNeese, Tim.
Brown v. Board of Education: Integrating America’s Schools. 2007.
A detailed look at the legal campaign led by Thurgood Marshall to end segregation in the American school system. Includes background on the origins of segregation and earlier legal challenges to the “”separate but equal” philosophy.
[SSHEL S Collection S.344.73 M233b]

Miller, Jake.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: Challenging School Segregation in the Supreme Court. 2004.
A picture book account of the events leading up to the Supreme Court case, the Court’s decision, and the struggle that followed.
[SSHEL S Collection Q. S.344.73 M615b]

Pierce, Alan.
Brown v. Board of Education. 2005.
Traces the history of segregation in the United States and efforts to end it up through the Brown case.
[SSHEL S Collection S.344.73 P611b]

Stokes, John A.
Students on Strike: Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Brown and Me: a Memoir. 2008.
This memoir recounts a student led strike to protest the horrendous conditions in their all black school. The NAACP later filed a lawsuit to integrate the school district (Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County) and this case was later combined with others into the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.
[SSHEL S Collection S.371.829 St676s]

Thomas, Joyce Carol.
Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone : The Brown v. Board of Education Decision. 2003.
In this collection of personal reflections, stories and poems, 10 well-known children’s authors, who were themselves young people in 1954, share their varied experiences and viewpoints to offer a window to that period in our history.
[SSHEL S Collection and Center for Children’s Books S.323.1196 L64]

Tushnet, Mark V.
Brown v. Board of Education: The Battle for Integration. 1995.
Describes the people playing major roles in the battle for desegregation, the smaller court cases that led up to Brown v. The Board of Education, and the results and repercussions of the case.
[SSHEL S Collection S.344.73 T871b]

School Segregation (General)


Bridges, Ruby.
Through My Eyes: Ruby Bridges. 1999.
Ruby Bridges recounts the story of her involvement, as a six-year-old, in the integration of her school in New Orleans in 1960.
[SSHEL S Collection and Center for Children’s Books SB.B851b]

Coles, Robert.
Story of Ruby Bridges. 1995.
For months six-year-old Ruby Bridges must confront the hostility of white parents when she becomes the first African American girl to integrate Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.
[SSHEL S Collection Q.S.370.19342 C679s]

Elish, Dan.
James Meredith and School Desegregation. 1994.
Focuses on the events surrounding James Meredith’s efforts to be allowed to attend the University of Mississippi in 1962.
[SSHEL S Collection S.323.1196073 EL47j]

Fireside, Harvey.
Plessy v. Ferguson: Separate but Equal? 1997.
Discusses the issues, characters, arguments, and impacts of Plessy v. Ferguson, a case that paved the way for Brown v. Board of Education.
[SSHEL S Collection S.342.730873 F514p]

Fradin, Judith Bloom.
The Power of One: Daisy Bates and the Little Rock Nine. 2004.
A biography of Daisy Bates, a journalist and activist who became one of the foremost civil rights leaders in America. In 1957 she mentored the nine black students who were integrated into Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
[SSHEL S Collection and Center for Children’s Books SB. B329f]

Lucas, Eileen.
Cracking the Wall: The Struggles of the Little Rock Nine. 1997.
A brief introduction to the nine African-American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957.
[SSHEL S Collection and Center for Children’s Books S.379.26309767 L962c]

Lusane, Clarence.
Struggle for Equal Education. 1992.
This title describes how efforts to educate blacks have been historically undermined by slavery, segregation, the “separate but equal” legislation, and a failure to reinforce civil rights laws as well as providing extensive information on the legislative history of educational desegregation.
[SSHEL S Collection S.370.19342 L975s]

Morrison, Toni.
Remember: The Journey to School Integration. 2004.
This is a pictorial essay on the fraught subject of school integration. Archival photographs are accompanied by Morrison’s captions which imagine what the participants might be thinking. Photo notes are included at the end and provide dates, locations, and context for the photos.
[SSHEL S Collection and Center for Children’s Books S.379.2 M834re]

Rappaport, Doreen.
The School is not White! A True Story of the Civil Rights Movement. 2005.
Sharecroppers Matthew and Mae Bertha Carter enroll their 8 children in an all-white school in Drew, Mississippi, in 1965.
[SSHEL S Collection Q.S.379.263 R182s]

Rasmussen, R. Kent.
Farewell to Jim Crow: The Rise and Fall of Segregation in America. 1997.
Farewell to Jim Crow covers the centuries-long quest for racial equality for African-Americans in the United States.
[SSHEL S Collection S.909.0496073 R184f]


Bradby, Marie.
Momma, Where Are You From? 2000.
An African-American woman tells her daughter stories of what it was like to grow up in the rural south, before schools were integrated.
[SSHEL S Collection Q.SE.B7273mo]

Draper, Sharon M.
Fire From the Rock. 2007.
In 1957, Sylvia Patterson’s life — that of a normal African American teenager — is disrupted by the impending integration of Little Rock’s Central High when she is selected to be one of the first black students to attend the previously all white school. Includes author’s note and related websites.
[SSHEL S Collection and Center for Children’s Books S. D791f]

Evans, Freddi Williams.
A Bus of Our Own. 2001.
Although she really wants to go to school, walking the five miles is very difficult for Mabel Jean and the other black children, so she tries to find a way to get a bus for them the same as the white children have. Based on real events in Mississippi.
[SSHEL S Collection SE.Ev15b]

Herlihy, Dirlie.
Ludie’s Song. 1988.
A young white girl in the 1950s rural south realizes the importance of segregation through a secret friendship with an African-American girl.
[SSHEL S Collection S.H4261l]

Lorbiecki, Marybeth.
Sister Anne’s Hands. 1998.
A second grade class in the 1960s is surprised — and learns life lessons about racism and persecution — when Sister Anne, an African-American nun, comes to teach them.
[SSHEL S Collection Q.SE.L883s]

Martin, Ann M.
Belle Teal. 2001.
As a new school year begins at Coker Creek Elementary School, Belle Teal befriends Darryl, a shy African American boy caught in the crossfire of the town’s anger over the desegregation of the school.
[SSHEL S Collection S.M3633be]

McKissack, Patricia C.
A Friendship for Today. 2007.
In 1954, sixth grader Rosemary becomes the first black student in Kirkland, Missouri. At home, she is forced to deal with her parents’ separation.
[SSHEL S Collection and Center for Children’s Books S.M217f]

Michelson, Richard.
Busing Brewster. 2010.
Brewster’s mama tells him that his new school for first grade teaches art and music, and that they have a library full of books. Brewster is pretty excited…until he learns that this school is in the white part of town. Brewster’s first day being “black in a white school” doesn’t go so well, and he winds up in detention at the library, where he meets Miss O’Grady, a librarian who might change Brewster’s life.
[SSHEL S Collection and Center for Children’s Books SE. M582bu]

Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux.
Mayfield Crossing. 1993.
When the school in Mayfield Crossing is closed, the students are sent to larger schools, where the black children encounter racial prejudice for the first time. Only baseball seems a possibility for drawing people together.
[SSHEL S Collection S.N338m]

Perez, L. King.
Remember as You Pass Me By. 2007.
In small-town Texas in the mid-1950s, twelve-year-old Silvy tries to make sense of her parent’s financial problems, a Supreme Court ruling that will integrate her school, the prejudice of her family and friends, and her own behavior, which always seems to be wrong.
[SSHEL S Collection S. P4153r]

Pinkney, Andrea Davis.
With the Might of Angels: The Diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson. 2011.
Smart, athletic Dawnie Rae usually likes school, but when she finds out she will be one of the first African-American students at a previously all-white Prettyman Coburn, she isn’t sure how to feel. Dawnie Rae and her family navigate the difficulties of school integration and face racism and prejudice while fighting for a right they believe in.
[SSHEL S Collection S. P6562w]

Walter, Mildred Pitts.
Girl on the Outside. 1982.
This novel, based on the events at Little Rock in 1957, tells the story of two girls — one white, one black — at the previously segregated Chatham School.
[SSHEL Oak Street S.W171g]

Wilkinson, Brenda Scott.
Not Separate, Not Equal. 1987.
Malene, one of a group of six African-American students to integrate a Georgia public high school in the mid-sixties, experiences hatred and racism, as well as the beginnings of the civil rights movement.
[SSHEL Oak Street S.W6593n]