19 Picture Books That Help Keep Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream Alive

by Charnaie Gordon

The life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is observed on the third Monday in January throughout most of the United States. I usually like to take the day off of work to reflect on Dr. King’s message in some sort of meaningful way. I take a break from my day-to-day obligations to think about the future I want for my children and the dreams I have for them as a parent.

Even if you don’t formally celebrate or commemorate Dr. King, the holiday is a great opportunity to talk to children about important values he emphasized like peace and racial and cultural equality. It’s also a good time to talk about simple ways that kids can help keep his dreams and wisdom alive. To support these conversations, I like to read books with my children that teach them about the civil rights movement and how Dr. King helped to fight for equality.

Since my kids were born, I’ve been reading Kadir Nelson’s book I Have a Dream with them. The book contains snippets from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech as well as the speech in its entirety in the back of the book. There is also an accompanying CD to go along with it.

Reading this book makes me think about my own dreams for my children. My goals and dreams for my children are simple: I want them to be happy, smart, loving, caring, successful, to be treated fairly, and to be respectful citizens of the world. Ultimately, I want my children to remember how fortunate we are not only to have dreams but to have the opportunity and chance to make our dreams come true — just like Dr. King did.

Below are 19 more picture books that help keep Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream alive.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2020.