MLK 360: A Children’s Booklist About Dr. King’s Legacy

We are excited to introduce our new monthly blog contributor Dr. Nosakhere Griffin-El! Dr. Griffin-El believes that meeting children at their dreams is a powerful way to engage them as readers. His inspiring and engaging book lists are one way he does that!

As a child, I remember studying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. only from one perspective — the man who had a dream. Without a deep understanding of Dr. King, I lacked the ability to apply some of his profound principles to my life. Years later as an adult, I read his autobiography and was amazed at the depth of his personhood. Out of this amazement, I created a book list that allows children to understand Dr. King’s life as a family member, activist, dreamer, and philosopher. Developing an understanding of these books has the potential for children to view themselves as having the power and potential to change the world. Reading these books provides caregivers, educators, and community members with the opportunity to facilitate rich conversations about the lessons from Dr. King’s life.

The objectives of this book list are as followed:

  • Expose children to the different experiences that contributed to Dr. King’s life,
  • Assist children in understanding who Dr. King was a father, uncle, and brother,
  • Understand Dr. King’s philosophy of love,
  • Discuss the underlying themes of Dr. King’s activism, and
  • Express an understanding of Dr. King’s dream.

MLK as Family Member

“My Daddy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” by Martin Luther King III is a biography of MLK written from the perspective of his son. The author provides a holistic perspective of Dr. King primarily as a loving father who was a civil rights leader. The author does an amazing job at showing the emotional impact of his father’s protests, jailing, and victories had on him as a child. This book allows the reader to develop a great appreciation of the sacrifices Dr. King and his family made in the fight for justice for African-Americans.


“My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart” by Angela Farris Watkins discusses biography about Dr. King. The book seamlessly integrates historical events with her personal perspectives of her uncle. She does an amazing job providing the reader with a complete picture of the civil rights hero. This book allows readers to understand Dr. King as a man who valued family, had a sense of humor, and deep desire to change the world. In sum, this book allows children to see Dr. King as an ordinary man who made extraordinary change.


MLK as Dreamer

“I Have a Dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an amazing book. The illustrator Kadir Nelson offers the reader with a chance to engage with the Dr. King’s words, while being equally inspire by the beautiful artwork. If you are an educator or parent trying to teach children about the famous, I have a Dream Speech, then this book offers a different experience.


MLK as Philosopher

“Love Will See You Through” by Angela Farris Watkins is an introduction to Dr. King’s Philosophy of Love. The author defines the principles of his philosophy, while using Dr. King’s experiences as illustrations of the aforementioned. This book teaches children how to non-violently resist oppression through using the powerful tool of love. Educators and parents can use this book to assist children in re-imagining Dr. King’s philosophy based on their own lived experiences.

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Dr. Nosakhere Griffin-EL is the President of The Dreamocracy Learning Lab and Founder of The Young Dreamers’ Book Club. His work focuses on creating innovative programming, content, and initiatives to inspire children to view reading as a tool to create and build their dreams. Dr. Griffin-EL’s fundamental belief is that meeting children at their dreams is a powerful way to teach them the importance of reading. Follow him on Twitter @drgriffinel