There are a lot of books and biographies out there about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Especially for kids. In fact, now that I think about it, I can’t think of many books about Dr. King for adults, that’s interesting. I will have to investigate further! And of course this thought could just be coming from the fact that I work in an elementary school library. If I was in a public library, I’m sure a librarian would set me straight.
While preparing for a presentation at my school’s Dr. King assembly, I came across a new-to-me picture book written by his niece Angela Ferris Watkins called Love will see you through. It is a beautifully illustrated picture book that discusses Dr. King’s six guiding beliefs of nonviolence. Each belief includes stories about his life told in a way that educated without sugarcoating and can help start meaningful discussions in the classroom. My colleague and friend Salema read it to her 2nd and 3rd grade students and some of the insights were so great that we put them in our Dr. King presentation (embedded below).
Another contribution that I like to remember on this day is from Coretta Scott King and the book award that bears her name. From the ALA website:
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.
I look forward to this award every year. We still live in a time where a hashtag #weneeddiversebooks is trending and necessary to address. Awards like the Coretta Scott King and Pura Belpre are not only great to see but necessary. I can try to stumble through why it is so necessary but I will let a much better writer, Junot Diaz, do it for me. He says:
“You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”
Finally, after wondering out loud about where the adult books about Dr. King are I came across a book just published by Tavis Smiley called Death of a King: the real story of Dr. Martin Luther King’s final year. I’ll have to see if my library has it, or get a copy for my own library!