Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” as Want to Read:
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

4.41  ·  Rating Details ·  8,156 Ratings  ·  845 Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Acclaimed author Doreen Rappaport and Coretta Scott King Award winner Bryan Collier, who previously collaborated on Freedom River , have pooled their talents yet again in a stunning tribute to civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. An extraordinary picture-book biography, Martin's Big Words consists of Rappaport's own words interwove
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Jump At The Sun
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Martin's Big Words, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Matthew Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in Memphis, TN in 1968. King's death came at a time when racial tension between African Americans and White…moreMartin Luther King Jr. was shot in Memphis, TN in 1968. King's death came at a time when racial tension between African Americans and White Southerners were at an all-time high. MLK Jr. was in Memphis to help the sanitation workers with their strike. This would have cost people a lot of money, so killing him was their way of protecting their pocketbooks as well as try to keep equality at bay. Luckily, the racists and bigots lost. MLK Jr. may have been assassinated, but his message lives on. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
When I was a child, I always wanted to learn more about the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while at the same time, I wanted to see a picture book for children that details Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s life in an uplifting way. Well, I just found such a picture book detailing Martin Luther King Junior’s life and it is called “Martin’s Big Words.” “Martin’s Big Words” is written by Doreen Rappaport along with illustrations by Bryan Collier and has won many awards including the Cal ...more
Lisa Vegan
Feb 04, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: for learning about nonviolent activism, MLK, Jr., civil rights history, etc.
Oh, I had trepidation about reading this book because of some comments made over at the Children's Books group. (This book is one of six books selected for February’s Picture Books Club; the month’s theme is Black History Month.) It just goes to show that we’re all going to have different reactions to the same book.

I need not have worried. I thought this was a nearly perfect book for its aim; I think.

Outstanding illustrations done in collage, a form I admire and enjoy.

The book covers Martin Luth
Feb 03, 2011 Kathryn rated it really liked it
I found this introductory biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to be both beautiful, inspiring... and a little frustrating.

On the one hand, I loved how the author incorporated MLK's "big words" into the story--most pages including actual quotes; but at the same time sometimes it felt a bit disjointed narrative-wise. Also, the narrative is so sparse that it lacks depth and I felt some key aspects of MLK's life were not explored sufficiently, even for a picture book. And I appreciate the fact
Crystal Marcos
Feb 09, 2011 Crystal Marcos rated it liked it
I always appreciate added information in books. So, I found it wonderful to have important dates highlighted and additional MLK information added at the end of the book. After I read the book, I went back and read the author’s and Illustrator’s notes. It was interesting to find out their thoughts on how they approached creating this book. I did like the artwork although a tad on the dark side. I think Martin’s life would have been better depicted in light rather than dark, because he brought so ...more
Jan 23, 2010 MissDziura rated it really liked it
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an excellent picture book for students of all ages, even though the book is intended for grades 1-3. I gave this book four stars (reallly liked it) mainly because of the unique format of the book. As opposed to just "telling" the story of Dr. King's life, Rappaport starts the story with Martin encountering the hurtful words WHITE ONLY and his mother's subsequent explanation that he is was "as good as anyone." The story of his life con ...more
L-Crystal Wlodek
This picture book, recommended for readers 8-10 years of age and has received the Coretta Scott King Award, Caldecott Honor (2002), New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books (2001). This is a book that tells the story of MLK’s life and times. This narrative tells of MLK’s life and the Civil Rights Movement by weaving together the authors words and actual words spoken by MLK.

This book describes the Civil Rights Movement, inequality, and the life of MLK in a captivating and emotional way.
Feb 04, 2010 Ch_amyM rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Martin's Big Words was written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier. Published in 2001 by Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Childre, it was a Cadecott Honor Book (2002), a Coretta Scott King Award Honor book (2002), and The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children's Book for 2001. The illustrations in this book are amazing starting with the stain glass windows on the opening pages that reminds one of the Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King's roots. The text is also used ...more
Jan 27, 2013 Dora rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr., recipient of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, Caldecott Honor, and Coretta Scott King Honor, provides a balance between a retell of history and excerpts from his impacting speeches. The illustrations contain artistic medias of realistic paintings and collage, that gives the reader more insight on how powerful Martin's words were in piecing together the society that once existed. A must have to read aloud for elementary and secondary ...more
I love this book! In the dozens of picture books about Martin Luther King Jr., this one stands out. I love the underlying message of the power of words, and the simplicity of the text underscores Martin’s message. The pictures, mixing collage and watercolor, add deeper layers to the story. The full page picture of the young African American girl in front of the American flag is at once inspiring and haunting. Both the author and the illustrator add a message at the beginning of the book explaini ...more
(NS) Panagiota Angelos
DVD- Non-print
Martin’s Big Words DVD features the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The video begins with moving gospel music in the background, which plays throughout video. The narrator has a deep captivating voice and takes the viewer through the life of Martin Luther King. The story begins when Martin is a young boy and his view of the world. He questions and is very observant on how people are treated. The video continues focusing on his life events that lead up until his death. He was sh
Laura Rumohr
Oct 04, 2009 Laura Rumohr rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Martin's Big Words was written for children in the primary grades. This story is about the life of Martin Luther King Junior. MLK's quotes are woven throughout the words of the entire text. It begins when Martin is a young boy and continues through his death. When he was a child he recognized racism in the community and wanted to make a difference. When he grew up he became a minister and learned that hate could be overcome with love. Over the years he worked with city leaders to improve the rig ...more
Jan 19, 2010 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Of the three books that we read this year about Martin Luther King, Jr. in honor of his birthday, this one was by far my favorite. I have to echo the comments made by one reviewer that all the books seem to be written with the same script; but this one is just different enough to pique my interest. The illustrations are wonderful and I love the way his words echo throughout the book. I felt his conviction and his hope pour out from the pages. I really liked this story and our girls did too.

My f
Jun 03, 2012 A_Jenny rated it it was amazing
I listened to this book as I read along was very moving. This Coretta Scott King Award, Caldecott Honor (2002), New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books (2001) would be a great picture book to use during February as we celebrate African Heritage Month by using the words of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech carefully chosen illustrations captivating the reader of the inequalities of the life of most African Americans during the acidic Rights Movement and how the words of one ma ...more
Sep 03, 2013 Malbadeen rated it it was amazing
I've been in education for 15 years, this is my first year as a principal. for the past 6 years I didn't have my own classroom or group of kids that I worked directly with.
I am soooooo excited to be with kids again! In the first week or so of school, I'll be going to each class and reading a book, and leaving it with the class. I got this one for the 5th graders, because it's beautiful and honors the intellectual capacity of this group of kids while tapping into their inate sense of justice.
Mar 19, 2010 Katina rated it it was amazing
I read this book on BookFlix. The website enables the story to come to life. The author tells the life story of Martin Luther King. "Everywhere in Martin's hometown, he saw the signs, WHITE ONLY. His mother told him: "You are as good as anyone." Martin used his words to create equality for all Americans. He talked to people for over ten years about justice before he gave his famous speech, "I have a Dream." His words will never be forgotten. I would read this book or show this book to students i ...more
(NS) Becca
Oct 06, 2009 (NS) Becca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
To begin, the pictures in this book are breathtaking. The illustrator uses collage and mixed media to convey the wonderfully inspiring story of a young Martin Luther King, Jr. The words make a statement aside from the pictures, pointedly addressing the issue that MLK, JR. lives on through his powerful words, "I have a dream..." The story walks the reader through the life of MLK, Jr. and the people who pushed him to live for his dreams despite all the anger in the world. Any child who reads this ...more
Unofficial review:

This was a simple picture book depicting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the segregation endured, and his peaceful demonstrations. The books flows, poetically. It would be appropriate to read K-5. It could be connected to Cesar Chavez: Harvesting Hope because both involve human/civil rights and peaceful protests. My favorite part was the mixed-media illustrations.
The illustrations for this book were very interesting, sort of like a collage that was mixed with paintings. I thought they were fun to look at, and also pretty poignant. The story was fairly simplistic, but it was still pretty moving. I’d recommend this book.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Shea Lavalier
• Interest Level: Lower Grades
• Reading Level: 3.4
• Guided Reading Level: K
• Genre: Biography
• Support for the genre: This is a story about Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood, achievements, death, and the cause he fought for.
• Additional Genres: Picture Books

Learn about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and how he inspired people to use their words to instill change on the world. Read about some of his accomplishments, hardships, and death.

Mentor Writing Traits:
There is a clear
Mary Ann
This wonderful biography is an homage in words and pictures. Rappaport weaves together King’s own words with her brief text sharing King’s all-too-short life. As a young boy, Martin knew that he wanted to inspire others using “big words.” Collier’s watercolor and collage illustrations express King’s joy in life, solemn sense of purpose, and passionate beliefs.
The illustrations for this are quite unique - a mixture of collage and watercolor. I would love to see how Bryan Collier creates his art. I thought the text was just okay, although I did like the use of so many quotes from Martin Luther King. I also find it curious that they didn't include the book's title on the front cover.
Feb 22, 2011 Tania added it
Shelves: social-studies
I have heard and read the story a thousand times about Martin Luther King Jr. but this book it something different. The illustrations in this book are so detailed that it could go without words and still have a powerful message. I could use this with any grade K-5 to teach about the civil rights movement.
Karen C.
Apr 21, 2016 Karen C. rated it it was amazing
"Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." written by Doreen Rappaport is a magnificent book that really shines a light to who MLK was and what he meant to many people. The book talks about Martin's speeches, marches, and support and love for everyone. The book is an informational text but it doesn't seem to be. Although all the information is reliable, the style of the book is written as if it were fiction. The illustrations are beautifully done and the vibrant colors easily e ...more
Julia Maisel
Apr 21, 2016 Julia Maisel rated it it was amazing
This is an exceptional children's picture book that tells Dr. King's life story and his contributions to society. It begins with his childhood. As a boy, he noticed racism in society, such as "White Only" signs. Later, he became a minister and used words from the Bible to teach about love, peace, and equality. This book mentions critical historical events, such as Rosa Parks standing up for her rights on the city bus. Dr. King supported peaceful protesters who stood up for what they believed in. ...more
Kelly Kline
1. What is the book about?
The book is about Marin Luther King Jr. growing up in a prejudice country. Martin worked so hard to over come racial boundaries he faced. Martin's mother encouraged him the most to continue to work hard. Martin led peaceful protest and read books on Ghandi to fuel his fight to end racism. Many people followed Martin's teaching. However, one day Martin was shot in Memphis, Tennessee. Many people look up to Martin today and he helped pave the way for integration.
2. What
Maelin Long
Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport is a wonderful book that tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr in a different way for children. By highlighting his big ideas and some big events of the Civil Rights Movement, children can easily understand how Martin Luther King was a part of that. Starting the story when he was young and then moving to his role in the movement made a wonderfully complete story of Martin Luther King Jr’s life.

With phenomenal pictures, the story is not only told through
Amazingly illustrated, and written so that you can read it aloud to a Kindergarten class (and up). You can even use just the "big words" with a preschool group.
Feb 25, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
Great children's book with excellent illustrations. I just read it with the kids...they loved it. Leads to good discussion too!
May 04, 2016 HannahtheFuller rated it it was amazing
It's amazing what the simplicity of word and picture can do for a reader. Pictures may be worth a million words, but paired with artful storytelling with wonderful illustrations, the result can be both enigmatic and sensational.
See? I've got some big words, too!

This picture book follows the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his speeches that he gives to listeners around the country. The art in the story book makes for a beautiful looking book as well as one that is simply told.
This would
Jan 04, 2008 Jenny rated it it was amazing
The illustrations were wonderful! Great background to teach kids about Martin Luther King Jr. and his significance.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Rosa
  • Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
  • Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad
  • The Story of Ruby Bridges
  • Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave
  • When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson
  • Freedom Summer
  • The Faithful Friend
  • Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson
  • The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins
  • A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams
  • Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal
  • Coretta Scott
  • Teammates
  • Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
  • Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman
Doreen Rappaport has written many books of fiction and nonfiction for young readers, specializing in thoroughly researched multicultural history, historical fiction, retellings of folktales and myths, and stories of those she calls the "not-yet-celebrated." Among her recent books is MARTIN'S BIG WORDS: THE LIFE OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., illustrated by Bryan Collier, which received a Caldecot ...more
More about Doreen Rappaport...

Share This Book