These books will help young people learn about the civil rights leader, the causes he fought for, and his legacy.

January 16 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and libraries across Pennsylvania are celebrating Dr. King’s life and work. The Pennsylvania Library Association and its literacy initiative, PA Forward, has put together this list of books that can help young people learn about Dr. King, the causes he dedicated his life to, and the events that shaped him into an inspirational leader.

Individuals looking for additional help in finding books and other materials on King’s life and the Civil Rights Movement can visit the James V. Brown Library during operating hours or check the online catalog. Locations, hours, and a link to the Brown Library’s full catalog of materials is available at

Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song by Andrea Davis Pinkney – Pinkney weaves together the stories of Dr. King and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, who shared a pivotal moment in civil rights history, as they stood together on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the day King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Pinkney’s husband, artist Brian Pinkney, drew the illustrations for the book, which is recommended for grades 2-4.

I have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr. – The text of King’s powerful speech is paired with paintings by Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson in this book that King’s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King, calls a “beautiful and powerful illustrated edition” of her father’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The book includes an audio CD excerpt of the speech and is recommended for grades 2 and up.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery – Lowery was one of the youngest participants in the 1965 voting rights march in Alabama, and she recounts her experiences – she was jailed 11 times before her 15th birthday — in this straightforward and moving memoir. Black and white photographs and color illustrations by P.J. Loughran, provide appeal for reluctant readers. Recommended for grades 5 and up.

We Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson – Levinson recounts the story of 4,000 African-American students who voluntarily went to jail to fight for civil rights. The book focuses on the stories of four young protestors, and includes period photos. Recommended for grades 5 and up.

March: Book One by John Lewis – This graphic memoir, the first of three volumes, tells the story of Congressman John Lewis’s lifelong fight for civil rights, including his life-changing meeting with King, his training as a nonviolent protestor, and his experiences on “Bloody Sunday” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in March 1965. Recommended for grades 8 and up.

Pennsylvania libraries have moved far beyond just being book repositories. They’re agile institutions serving real-life needs. Libraries are key to powering progress and elevating the quality of life in PA by fueling the types of knowledge essential to success: Basic Literacy, Information Literacy, Civic and Social Literacy, Health Literacy, and Financial Literacy.

Working in partnership with The Pennsylvania Library Association, libraries from across the Commonwealth are working together to move PA Forward.  This initiative seeks to give voice to what the library community already knows, and what other states throughout the nation are also recognizing:

With the right support, libraries are ideally positioned to become the community centers of information, technology, and learning that will fuel educational and economic opportunity for all of our citizens.

The James V. Brown Library is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and 24/7 at