Monday, January 21, 2013

I Have a Dream: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Kadir Nelson

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr Day in the United States and what better way to pay tribute to him than to remember his life and his words.  And in Kadir Nelson's stunning book I Have A Dream, you can do that.

I got chills down my back when I first read this beautiful book, the same kind of chills I get whenever I hear Dr. King's moving speech.  Now, highlighting the last part of the speech, the dream excerpt, Nelson has given the words of Dr. King's perhaps most memorable speech delivered on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the thousands of people present for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom new life for younger reader to learn about this historic event and its leader.

The powerful words of the speech are complimented with lush, richly textured oil paintings by Nelson.  Nelson has really captured the meaning to the words so that the illustration and text reflect each other so well.  In the illustration below, with the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" it is hard to differentiate individual people, giving the sense of equality yet it also gives the sense of the sheer number of people.

The dream section of the speech is very much about the country's youth and a few pages later, we see the faces of children in great detail catching the very essence and emotion of the I Have a Dream speech - that children are the future of the United States and we will be a better nation if we work together instead of against each other.

This is a inspirational book for kids, kids who were born long after Dr. King's death and for whom he may only be a figure in history and a day off from school.  But Nelson's lovely book brings him to life for today's reader and hopefully will instill a new appreciation for the valiant, often dangerous work that was done during the Civil Rights Movement by Dr. King and others. There is a reprint of the entire I Have A Dream speech at the end of the book and a CD of Dr. King giving the speech so readers can hears it has it happened.

But I Have A Dream is also a book for adults, a reminder of the turbulent history of the 1960s and how people can come together as they did in 1963 and bring about change even in a country that sometimes seems as big and as divided as this one can be.

Appropriately enough, 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the I Have a Dream speech and I can't help  but wonder what Dr. King would think as the nation swears in its 44th president, Barack Obama, for a second term in office on the same day we honor Dr. King's life.

This book is recommended for readers age 5+ but really appropriate for everyone.
I received this book from the author at BEA 2012.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted by The LibrariYAn

This is Book 1 of my 2013 Nonfiction Picture Book Reading Challenge hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy


  1. What beautifully vibrant illustrations! I love the diversity in those children too.

  2. His artwork is amazing! This is THE MLK book of the year! I want to buy a copy!

  3. I shared this book today too, just a treasure of a book.

  4. I love Kadir Nelson! Will have to look for this one--thanks!

  5. I was 15 when Dr. Martin Luther King made his famous speech. The adults were talking and debating about it for weeks after, but I just remember the feeling – and you describe it perfectly - as chills down the back.

  6. Lovely artwork and an utmost important message!

  7. Love Kadir Nelson. His work is such a gift, and I'm glad we have a new MLK book to share with younger readers.

  8. Oh, what beautiful illustrations! They are amazing! King's I Have a Dream speech contains so many timeless nuggets of inspiration that even young children can grasp. I love that there is a book for children that shares some of King's wisdom. Wonderful! :D Thanks for linking in the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

  9. The illustration with children of all races says it all. A picture speaks 1000 words.

  10. Thanks for sharing this at the Human Right's themed round up.


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