Martin Luther King Jr.

Martins Big Words by: Doreen Rappaport

Due to the notoriety of his name, MLK is the best individual to broach the subject of Civil Rights. Many children have already heard of MLK and can relate in some way. The best book I have found to broach the subject is Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. This book uses amazing illustrations and basic language to explain the early days of segregation, King’s childhood through adulthood, the popular marches and the effects of King's work.  There is also a large 4-page fold-out that my students are always impressed by. Every year I read this book, the children are quickly able to identify the basic theme of the Civil Rights Movement: things were not fair and many people were participating in safe protests to convince people to make things fair.

Rosa Parks 

Rosa by: Nikki Giovanni

This book is very similar to Martin's Big Words in its pictures. The text is deeper and contains some themes which young children may not be able to relate to (eg: NAACP, etc.) but overall it provides an easy to understand and clear picture of the story. After reading the story we often put on a 'play' where the children take on the different roles of the characters from the bus incident. The story also covers the Montgomery Bus Protests and the success of the resulting marches.

Ruby Bridges 

Through My Eyes by: Ruby Bridges

The text in this book is not helpful for children. When I use this book for my class it is primarily for the photographs and captions. The book contains amazing black and white photos from outside the school, Ruby Bridges' home, in her classroom. There are also photos of other schools being integrated and the few white children who remained in the same school as Ruby. Using these photographs and taking a 'picture  walk' through the book it is easy for children to understand the dangers that Bridges faced.

Jackie Robinson

Teammates by: Peter Golenbock

This is another book that I use mainly for the pictures. I have found that the pictures are clear enough to ad-lib the story. Some actual photographs are included in the book as well. The pictures make it easy to pose questions to children such as: "How do you think Jackie felt here, when he starting on the Brooklyn Dodgers?" "Does it look safe for Jackie on the field?", etc.