Books Early Readers Features Genre Joy and Peace in Literature Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] What It Means To “Be A King”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream And You.

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream And You (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford Illustrated by James E. Ransome
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children’s (2018)
ISBN: 0802723683 (ISBN13: 9780802723680). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) is the embodiment of peaceful protest – a philosophy that he embraced after learning about Mohandas Gandhi’s nonviolent form of civil disobedience. This picturebook does not really depict MLK’s biography – although visual allusions to this can be seen on each page. It is more a gentle encouragement to young readers on how they can also become a king, fashioned after Dr. King’s dream and life’s mission:

The story demonstrates how one can choose to respond to displays of bigotry or prejudice and the many ways one can make a difference by standing up for one’s beliefs – with dignified resolve and without resorting to violence.

What makes the story really work for me is that the art tells more than just the injunction in the text. One needs to really pay attention to the illustrations and figure out the many layers of the narrative – an example can be seen in the image above – which also highlights how this is a perfect book for peace-builders and joy-makers.

The Author’s Note in the end provides a condensed timeline of MLK’s life – particularly the ones that were highlighted throughout the book. James E. Ransome’s art remains luminous throughout and Carole Boston Weatherford’s distilled text is powerfully compact and moving. Indeed, this book provides the perfect discussion prompt on how one can choose to be a King.

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 18 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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