It’s almost Martin Luther King Jr. day. This important day reminds us of a great man in history who pushed for equality. Before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, you should read a book with your class about him. It would be a tragedy if students had the day off to celebrate without knowing about the legacy of the man we honor with this day. Here are some books about Martin Luther King Jr. for your class. I’ve organized them by Guided Reading Level to make it easier to choose the best one for your readers. I also have TEKS and Common Core aligned activity ideas for you.
History is better when it comes alive. And if a picture is worth 1,000 words, video is even better. Before you read about Martin Luther King, Jr., if your school allows, consider letting them watch some of his famous I Have a Dream speech. The one I’m linking to below has subtitles which is handy, especially if you have any students who are deaf who you need to accommodate. Unfortunately, a few of the words are cut off, but I couldn’t find anything better. Still, I think it is better than no subtitles.
The books listed contain affiliate links which does not add any extra cost to you. It does help me keep this site up for you to enjoy.
Martin Luther King Jr. Books for Elementary Students
Guided Reading Level H
Let’s Read about…Martin Luther King, Jr. by Courtney Baker
Guided Reading Level K
Martin Luther King Day by Lisa M. Harrington
Guided Reading Level L
Martin’s Dream by Jane Kurtz
Guided Reading Level M
Let’s Dream, Martin Luther King, Jr. by Peter Roop
Guided Reading Level Q
If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King by Ellen Levine
I Have a Dream by Margaret Davidson
Guided Reading Level T
I am Martin Luther King Jr by Grace Norwich
Including the Standards
Sometimes it’s hard to fit in social studies lessons into our day because tested subjects take our priority. Thankfully, we can use ELA TEKS to incorporate lessons about Martin Luther King Jr. Keep reading for ideas below on how to incorporate these books into your ELA lessons using the Texas TEKS.
Texas TEKS and/Or Common Core Grade 3
Texas TEKS Grade 3
For the Texas TEKS Sandard 9 states, “Students are expected to explain the different in point of view between a biography and autobiography (Note: This did not quote the entire standard).” Discuss with your class if Martin Luther King wrote the book you read or if somebody else did. It’s a great place to also discuss first versus third person. You could contrast it by reading aloud Rosa Park’s autobiography (Guided Reading Level U).
Common Core Grade 3
The Common Core standard relevant is CCSS: ELA-Literacy.RI3.10, which includes reading history and social studies texts in the high end of the grades 2-3 text complexity band.You can go to page 8 of the link for further information. According to that resource, the 2nd to 3rd text complexity band is from 450-790 Lexile. That means you’re looking to end up with books around a Guided Reading Level N for independent reading. However, keep in mind, it’s only January, not the end of the school year.
Texas TEKS Grade 4
Standard 7 for ELA in 4th states,”Students are expected to identify similarities and differences between the events and character’s experiences in a fictional work and the actual events and experiences described in an author’s biography or autobiography (Note: this is not the entire standard).” I’ve tried searching for some books that would have a fictional account of Martin Luther King Jr., but I’ve been having trouble finding something geared for children instead of adults. If you have a suggestion, leave it in the comments.
Common Core Grade 4
There are many standards you can choose for Grade 4. I think choosing CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL4.2 would make for a powerful lesson. Have students discuss the theme of Martin Luther King’s Jr. biography. This will get them really thinking about his legacy and how he wanted the world to change.
Texas TEKS Grade 5
Standard 7 for ELA in 5th says, “Students are expected to identify the literary language and devices used in biographies and autobiographies, including how authors present major events in a person’s life.” Have students find text evidence in the book you read with them. For advanced students, they might enjoy finding literary language in Martin Luther King speeches, too.
Common Core Grade 5
Standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4 lends itself nicely to learning about Martin Luther King. Students are expected to determine the meaning of words and phrases as used in text, including figurative language like metaphors and similes. Present students with the text of a Martin Luther King speech and have them identify figurative language in the text. You could even have students write their own speeches including figurative language to present to the class.
Connect with Other Teachers
Do you have a lesson your students love about Martin Luther King, Jr.? Drop us a comment below or share the idea with others on our Facebook group. That way students all over the country can benefit from your great idea.