I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King9780375858871_p0_v1_s260x420I Have A Dream

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kadir Nelson, illustrator

Schwartz & Wade Books, Oct. 2012

Suitable for Ages: 5-10

Themes:  Dr. Martin Luther King, African-Americans, Civil Rights, Freedom, Diversity

Opening/Synopsis:  “I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.  It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.  I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Book CoverFrom Dr. Bernice A. King:  “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing “I Have a Dream” speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us — those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.”

Why I like this book:  Artist Kadir Nelson has taken one of the most powerful and inspirational speeches in history, and created a  beautifully illustrated book set to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic speech delivered on Aug. 28, 1963.   Nelson’s oil paintings are masterpieces  and a feast for the eyes and soul.  I was mesmerized by the strength and power in each painting.  Now a new generation of children will have the opportunity to learn about this great civil rights leader.

Resources:  There is a CD that accompanies this book.  The entire speech is printed at the end of the book.  With the inauguration of President Barak Obama, our first African-American President,  falling on Jan. 21, Martin Luther King Day, it is right to combine the two.  In honor of both, tomorrow, January 19, has been named a National Day of Service, and Americans are being urged to get involved in a local community service project.   Just check on the website for information

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend – Perfect Picture Book

Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend

Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, Authors

John Holyfield, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, September 2011,  Historical Fiction

Suitable for: Children 5-8 years

Themes:  Animals in history, Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Opening/Synopsis: Alex sat on bench outside the store.  He wanted to go and play, but his mother had told him to wait for her.  There was nothing to do on the porch but watch an old mule eating in the garden across the street.  There was no breeze.  It was so still that Alex could hear the mule munching on a row of bright collard greens.  An old woman, Miz Pettaway, sat down on the bench next to Alex and chuckled, “Ol’ Belle?  She can have all the collards she wants.  She’s earned it.”  Alex learns from Miz Pettaway that Belle has played a very important role in the history of the civil rights movement.

This is a true story about an amazing mule, from a poor community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.  Few could afford a car, so the community of farmers depended on the mules to help them work the land.  In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Gee’s Bend and inspired the African-American community to register to vote.   Miz Pettaway, said “they felt strong after Dr. King spoke.”  So many of the local “Benders” traveled to Camden to vote that the sheriff shut down the ferry.  But, stubborn and determined,  the Benders  boarded wagons pulled by mules and defied the local authorities.   When Dr. King died, Gee’s Bend received a call asking if their mules would pull Dr. King’s coffin through the streets of Atlanta during the funeral.  Belle and another mule Ada, did the honors that day.  Alex sees the mule through new eyes — a hero.

Why I liked this Book:  I applaud the authors, Ramsey and Stroud, for their very fresh approach to telling the story of Dr. King and the civil rights movement.  Holyfield’s bold and colorful acrylic illustrations evoke the determination and the drama of that time in history.  The book is an intergenerational book and should be in every classroom for this year’s Martin Luther King celebrations.  It won a Parent’s Choice Award in 2011.  There is an author’s note at the end of the book about this true story of the mules who pulled the funeral wagon from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College in 1968.  Belle and Ada were an important part of history.  And Miz Pettaway did exist, a I found an interview with her.  She was among the famous Gee’s Bend quilters.  Links to resourcesEducation World and Teacher Vision.

For more books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.