Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
written by Kitson Jazynka
2012 (National Geographic Kids)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

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The first thing that catches my eye with this early reader biography is the great photograph on the cover. It is the setting for Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech"  in 1963. I like that his name on the cover is outlined in red, white, and blue given his impact on our country. On the inside, there is a blue border with doves on the top margin of each page. This signifies Dr. King's work for peace. His parents' influence is highlighted early in the book as they both make sure their son understands that, despite racial injustice, he is as good as anyone else. A story about six year old Martin will resonate with readers. They will also be interested in the photographs of his boyhood home and his family. They can make connections with their home and families. I like the insertion of the "In His Time" section. This two page spread gives details about life in America during Dr. King's childhood. Another good insert is the "In His Own Words" section that appears in several places. These are quotes directly from Dr. King. One quote is from a speech that he wrote when he was 14 years old. "Helping Others" is the longest chapter in this text and it features the work that he and his wife Coretta Scott King did to fight injustice in the South. The importance of words is featured throughout this section as Dr. King's use of this tool, as opposed to violence, is highlighted. "Final Years" tells young readers of his death in Memphis but also emphasizes that his words continue to live. The last chapter in the book takes readers to Washington D.C. to visit the recently established memorial to Dr. King.

This biography is a good introduction, for early readers, to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition to learning about his life, readers will be introduced to several new words in the vocabulary pieces. These words are reviewed in the glossary which has a picture attached to each word. This is very helpful for all learners, but especially ELL (English Language Learners) students. There are several nonfiction text features that can be used for lessons and as is the norm with a National Geographic book, you get terrific photographs. With the national holiday honoring Dr. King just around the corner, share this biography with your young readers.

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