Review: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

A very basic text explaining the holiday to very young students.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Robin Nelson.
First Step Nonfiction, Lerner Publications Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2003.
Early reader non-fiction, 23 pages including glossary and index.
Lexile: not yet leveled
AR Level: 2.1 (worth 0.5 points)

This is a very basic early reader as part of a formulaic series for preschool to first or maybe second grade learners.  It is typically marketed to teachers and schools as part of a holidays set, which is how I acquired it.

mlk-jr-day-robin-nelson-resized
Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Robin Nelson

Each page has a picture with text on the bottom.  There is no more than one sentence on each page, sometimes only a two word sentence, however the vocabulary can be challenging for an early reader.  There is a glossary and an index, making this a good book for an early introduction to these non-fiction text features.  Words featured in the glossary are slightly bolder in the text.  There is also a timeline following the main text and two pages of MLK day facts.

Ideally the parent or teacher would initially read this aloud to the class and children would later have an opportunity to interact with the text and study the pictures on their own.  The book is quite small (similar in size to the Rookie Read About series) so for a very large or inattentive group, this wouldn’t work well as a read-aloud.  It could also be used for small group work.

mlk-jr-day-by-robin-nelson-p-2-3-cropped-resized
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, pages 2 and 3.

This is a very simplistic text.  It states that the holiday is in January but doesn’t explain that it is celebrated on the second or third Monday of the month.  There is a need for these books at a particular point in time when children are learning about holidays but don’t have the ability to read many words.  The vocabulary is still a bit high for the first-graders this book seems aimed at, however.

The author is a white woman who has written many series of early non-fiction books for kids, so this is not an #ownvoice book.

The photographs impressed me by being all in color, although there were one or two “contemporary” photos that felt dated to me given that this book is only about ten years old.  The ending text is useful to a young reader exploring the book independently but not very helpful to teachers unless they are exploring non-fiction text features with their students.

I’ve used this book and series as a filler to talk about various holidays during the school year because my current school doesn’t use these books so I know they will be new to my students and hold their interest a little better.  We also read them at home when we are close to a holiday and I remember.  However, for first to third graders I usually grab Marzollo’s Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King instead. This title works best for the various kindergarten classes.

This book would be a good addition to a school or classroom library but I don’t think it’s necessary for a home library unless you see it used or have a particular interest in collecting MLK Jr Day books.

Author: colorfulbookreviews

I work in a library by day and parent the rest of the time. I am passionate about good books representing the full spectrum of human diversity for every age group and reading level. This blog is my attempt to help parents, educators, and librarians find the best children's books authored by or featuring characters of color.

5 thoughts on “Review: Martin Luther King Jr. Day”

  1. I’m going to look into this one for my school’s MLK day of service next year. I bring books for the kids to read, and I’m always looking for books for different reading levels. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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