What makes someone a hero? Another powerful book by Brad Meltzer is I am Martin Luther King Jr in the Ordinary People Change the World. How do you explain the complex changes that Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished in a children’s book? It’s quite a challenging task, but the author succeeded in creating a book that helps explain the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and how he succeeded in making such significant changes in our country. From when Martin Luther King Jr. was a child, he knew “there was a power in words”. He experienced injustice and prejudice at a young age when his friend stopped playing with him due to the color of his skin. The author takes the reader through his life span and how his career as a minister helped put him in the leadership position to make changes. Other important events highlighted in the story include Martin Luther King Jr.’s infamous speech and the peaceful protests that he helped lead. The book also takes the reader through Martin Luther King Jr.’s time in jail and how he continued to write his message regardless of his resources.
I am Martin Luther King Jr. contains complex language and events that can be ideal for a child that is in 2nd grade and up. Although it’s appropriate for younger children, several parts need to be modified to help explain specific ideas. My 2nd grader, who has learned about Martin Luther King Jr., enjoyed this book because she already had a background with regards to his achievements. With a foundation of knowledge, I am Martin Luther King Jr. will add to that knowledge and give the child a more in depth perspective of his life. For a child who is unfamiliar with this hero, reading the book several times would be helpful and also providing additional support with regard to words such as “freedom”, “injustice”, “prejudice” and “boycott” would be beneficial. These are big words that can be hard to understand, but can be explained better when related to the child’s own life.
Brad Meltzer, author of his book does not explain the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr at the end of the story (it is in the timeline if you want to review that with your child). The idea of assassination can be a difficult concept to explain to children and I think that leaving that part open at the end of the book is ideal.
Are you a teacher? Would you like to do a carryover activity at home?
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