avid Adler’s A Picture Book of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(part of a Scholastic series of biographies for children) presents young readers not only with detailed facts of King’s life, but with a sense of King as a real person. The front-cover portrayal of a young smiling boy on his bicycle is just one highlight among the 24 watercolors by illustrator Robert Casilla that grace this book’s pages. Children identify with the stories told of that boy, whose name they learn is Martin. Martin is shown outside his home and singing in a choir with his brother and sister, playing football with friends, crying with his mother after he’s learned two friends will no longer play with him because of his race. Young readers want the boy in the book to overcome the prejudice he encounters and understand he strives to do this through studying, going to college, and ultimately preaching to millions of people the importance of peaceful protests.
The riots that persisted, the unfair treatment of people of color that continued, and King’s assassination also are portrayed, but it’s the dream that young Martin grew up to share with the world that remains in the minds of readers fortunate enough to encounter this book. A list of dates on the last page provides a helpful outline for school-age children tackling one of their first writing projects on this renowned historical figure whose humble beginnings contributed so much to his life’s work.