Teaching students about Martin Luther King Jr. and the role he played in the Civil Rights Movement is a great way to show how courage and bravery can change the world. The inspirational message of King and the stories of his efforts to end segregation and racism in America will likely have a tremendous effect on students—they’ll realize King’s words still resonate today and they’ll be inspired to follow his lead to help achieve his dream.

    The following 3 books and accompanying discussion prompts are an effective and engaging way to help students in grades 3–5 understand the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and how his legacy continues to make an impact in the world today.

    1.     Martin Luther King Jr.

    The True Book biography Martin Luther King Jr. is an engaging read that is a great supplement to what your students already know about this historic and influential figure. Students will learn more about King’s early life, as well as the steps he took to lead the Civil Rights Movement in America. After reading, it’s important to help students connect with King and his legacy by engaging them in a class discussion. The following questions are a great place to begin:

  • What famous leaders influenced Martin Luther King Jr.?
  • What did Martin Luther King Jr. learn from Mahatma Gandhi?
  • How does Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy live on today? What else needs to be done to help make his dream come true?
  • 2.     I Am: Martin Luther King Jr.

    In I Am: Martin Luther King Jr. students will learn about Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous accomplishments. From the Montgomery Bus Boycott to his “I Have a Dream” speech, this biography features engaging illustrations, fact-filled timelines, and a top ten list of the most important things to know about this civil rights leader. Here are a few questions to kickstart the conversation surrounding this book:

  • Identify 3 accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr. Why are they important?
  • What “dream” do you have for the world? How can you and your classmates make it come true?
  • 3.     Let's Dream, Martin Luther King Jr.!

    While students already know that Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most important leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, they may not understand what motivated him to become such a brave and courageous figure. Let’s Dream, Martin Luther King Jr.! provides students further background about this historic leader and offers young readers the opportunity to learn about King’s life before he rose to prominence. After reading, inspire students to further reflect on the early life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. with these discussion questions:

  • What was Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth name?
  • As a young child, what did Martin Luther King Jr. do when he became angry and upset?
  • How old was Martin Luther King Jr. when he graduated high school?
  • When Martin Luther King Jr. entered college was he as prepared as his classmates? Why, or why not?
  • Whether it’s reading about King’s early life or the impact his work has had on America in the last 50 years, students will learn just how important King was in shaping the world they live in today. And by talking about his accomplishments, students will begin to see just what they need to do to help make King’s dream become a reality.