Black History Month Kid Lit Review of “Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You” by Carole Boston Weatherford

This book begins with two quotes. The first is from the late Congresswoman Shirley Chishom: “Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” The second is from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity’ to serve. You don’t have to know the Second Theory of Thermal Dynamics in Physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

The rest of the book consists of two-page full-bleed spreads that tell and show how “You can be a King.” Each text block reflects challenges in Dr. King’s own life. Some examples include:

“You can be a King.
Know that bigotry hurts.
Remember how you felt
When treated unfairly.”

“You can be a King.
Admit that you’ve done wrong.
Just say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and mean it.”

“You can be a King.
Break the chains of ignorance.
Learn as much as you can.”

“You can be a King.
Beat the drum for justice.
March to your own conscience.”

Talented illustrator James E. Ransome employs acrylics, colored pencils, oils, and gouache. Interestingly, the artwork alternates completely in style between historic painterly depictions, and contemporary scenes in a schoolyard or classroom which feature more cartoon-like pictures.

An Author’s Note provides background on Martin Luther King Jr. with an emphasis on his calling as a humanitarian.

Evaluation: Although this book is meant for very young children, I thought the vocabulary was a bit advanced. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, if adults help explain concepts like “bigotry” and “conscience” and metaphorical “dividing walls.”

Published by Bloomsbury, 2018

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1 Response to Black History Month Kid Lit Review of “Be A King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You” by Carole Boston Weatherford

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    This sounds like a wonderful book to spark discussions and service. I love that the illustrations are in different styles.

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