Back to top

Take a look at some of our staff picks in honor of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and achievements. We have titles for kids, teens and adults; fiction or nonfiction - there's something for everyone.

Book River
Book River Title
MLK Day Reads
Book River Items

A Place to Land : Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation (2019)

by Barry Wittenstein

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein is a picture book for all ages providing insight into the days leading up to King's famous speech. Advice by close associates the night before lead to prepared remarks, however, MLK's now famous words were part of an improvised ending to his speech. Historical and biographical notes are included as well as a note from the award-winning Jerry Pinkney who illustrated this book. – Vicki Heller, Collection Development Librarian

March Book One (2013)

by John Lewis

March by John Lewis with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell is a three-volume graphic novel series that tells the story of the late Congressman's experience as a leader of the civil rights movement. Congressman Lewis was introduced to the work of MLK Jr. by the 10-cent comic "Martin Luther King an the Montgomery Story" so it is fitting that his story is recounted here in the same format. This compelling and important story, recounted in a format perhaps unfamiliar to some patrons, is a great opportunity to try out a new reading format and see that comics aren't just for kids. – Emily Vinci, Fiction Manager

An American Marriage (2018)

by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a novel with questions about class and race embedded in a taught love story that explores simultaneously what it means to be in a marriage as well as what it means to be black in America. – Emily Vinci, Fiction Manager

Dear Martin (2017)

by Nic Stone

The story is told from the perspective of Justyce McAllister, a 17-year-old honor roll student at Braselton Prep and tackles race relations and social justice though the lens of Dr. Martin Luther King’s teachings. Justyce is polite and doesn’t cause trouble, but after being profiled by the police and handcuffed, Justyce, who is familiar with the teachings of Dr. King, begins writing a journal to Dr. King to help him deal with the situation. This is a quick, powerful and timely read. – Gail Tobin, Hanover Park Branch Manager

Sit-in : How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down (2010)

by Andrea Davis Pinkney

This informational picture book tells the story of the of the famous lunch counter sit-in in 1960 at a Woolworth’s by four college students, a peaceful protest that sparked similar sit-ins throughout the country to peacefully protest segregation. Quotes by Dr. King are interspersed throughout the text and more historical information is included at the end, including a Civil Rights timeline. This is an inspiring book for young readers who are interested in the history of the civil rights movement. – Gail Tobin, Hanover Park Branch Manager

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop : the Sanitation Strike of 1968 (2018)

by Alice Faye Duncan

This historical fiction picture book is told through the eyes of 9-year-old Lorraine Jackson, whose father was a sanitation worker. This is a great introduction to an important event in history where Dr. King gave his last speech and was assassinated the next day. It packs a lot of information in an appealing format. – Gail Tobin, Hanover Park Branch Manager

The Hate U Give (2017)

by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter witnesses the death of her unarmed friend at the hands of a police officer, and the shooting becomes a national headline. As the only witness, Starr must decide how she wants to use her voice, even if it means putting herself and her family in danger. This powerful and insightful story is a must-read for both teens and adults. The Hate U Give was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. – Allison Riggs, Teen Librarian

His Truth is Marching on : John Lewis and the Power of Hope (2020)

by Jon Meacham

This is a gripping portrait of the late Congressman's experiences during the late 1950s and ’60s as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a leader in crucial civil rights actions. Based largely on interviews with Lewis, Meacham's vivid writing creates a passionate, resonant portrait of a Civil Rights icon who never renounced his faith in the power of hope to move a nation. – Magan Szwarek, Reference Services Director

I May Not Get There with You : the True Martin Luther King, Jr (1999)

by Michael Eric Dyson

Dyson purports the idea that MLK should be considered as significant a figure in American civic life as any of of the original founding fathers. What emerges is a provocative, nuanced investigation of King's ideas without attempting to minimize any of his flaws or reducing the real man to a one-dimensional symbol. – Magan Szwarek, Reference Services Director

Box : Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom (2020)

by Carole Boston Weatherford

Henry Brown, born into slavery, set himself free when he mailed himself to freedom in a box. A book of poetry, each stanza has six lines to mimic the six sides of a box. Beautifully written and an important story to remember on MLK's birthday. – Gretchen Schulz, Tween Librarian

Loretta Little Looks Back (2020)

by Andrea Davis Pinkney

An intergenerational tale of the Little family and their experience as a Black family in the American South from 1927-1968. The story starts with Loretta's life as a sharecropper in the 1920s South – and moves to the 1960s when the civil rights movement is in full swing with Loretta's niece Aggie as the narrator. Painful to read at times, but never without hope; this is a special book, and a great way to add to children's history lessons on the history of racism in America. – Gretchen Schulz, Tween Librarian

They Called Us Enemy (2019)

by George Takei

They Called Us Enemy is a very honest and moving account of George Takei’s incarceration during World War II. It was the start of a lifetime of discrimination that he still endures. Takei teaches us that it may be too late to undo what was done to Japanese Americans almost 70 years ago, but suggests it's not too late to learn from it. – John Ericson, Hoffman Estates Branch Manager

Selma (2015)

by Plan B

Selma is a historical drama that chronicles Martin Luther King Jr.’s dangerous fight for equal voting rights and his powerful march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. This movie is painful to watch at times, but also inspiring to witness the incredible heroes who fought for equal rights and peacefully marched on March 7th. – Dina Ragano, Fiction, Movies & Music Department Coordinator