Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Recommended by: Debernee S. Privott, higher education administrator, University at Albany, United University Professions.
Suitable for: All ages
Why I chose this book: This book reminded me of Dr. King's words in his "Letter from the Birmingham Jail": Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. ... Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Martin's Big Words was among those books provided by the First Book program, (supported by NYSUT and the AFT) which is "determined to see that all children, regardless of their economic conditions, can achieve more in school and in life through access to an ongoing supply of new books." The call for justice and fairness is clear.
What I like best: I liked the teamwork between the author and the illustrator. I was particularly moved by Collier's last picture — four candles to represent the four girls who were killed in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, showing how their light shines on. It illustrates Rappaport's words: "His big words are alive for us today."
How teachers can use this book: Teachers can juxtapose this book with the many books about Dr. King. By comparing and contrasting works, additional perspective may be gained about his phenomenal life and his messages for the world. Teachers may also encourage their students to visit the places that are referenced in the book, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.
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