Martin's Big Words
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Martin's Big Words

4.4 of 5 stars 4.40  ·  rating details  ·  5,787 ratings  ·  641 reviews
In this elegant pictorial biography of Martin Luther King Jr., author Doreen Rappaport combines her spare, lyrical text with King's own words for an effective, age-appropriate portrayal of one of the world's greatest civil rights leaders. From King's youth, when he looked up to his preacher father and vowed one day to "get big words, too," to his death at a garbage workers...more
Paperback, 40 pages
Published 2002 by Scholastic (first published October 1st 2001)
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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 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
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...more
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
Crystal Marcos
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
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....more
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.
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...more
Laura Rumohr
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
L13_Allison Safran
"Martin's Big Words" is a great book that I have heard a lot about from other members in our Children's Literature class! The book is about the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I watched this video on SchoolTube and I think it definitely added an element of interest for young readers. The video does a nice job of zooming in on details that corresponded with the text at the time. In the movie, the text moves and there is even background knowledge that is appropriate and support...more
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...more
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
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
This is an outstanding book that inspires children of all backgrounds. It's an award winning book that has won the Coretta Scott King, Jane Adams, and Caldecott Awards. The illustrator did a phenomenal job of bring the story to life in a unique way with collages, and the book is has a story line that's easy to follow. It speaks to young children and talks about Dr King as a child and his journey and dream as a child. It's inspiring, invigorating and motivating for all. There's rich vocabulary an...more
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. imparts a powerful that was conveyed by the teachings of Dr. King. He fought hate with love, said together when others said separate, and believed that peace was the answer to war. Throughout his life, he lived to impart his message to others while he "Walked with them and talked with them and sang with them and prayed with them".

Even though I am not fond of the illustrative technique of the pictures that accompany this t...more
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
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
Krista Rey
This book is a strong book with great illustrations. I really liked that the theme of the book was Martin's Big Words rather than what Martin did. What he said was so powerful and can't be traded. The book starts out with Martin realizing that there were "Whites Only" signs everywhere in his hometown. Martin was frightened by this, but decided that when he grows up he is going to have big words. He grows up to be a preacher and preached that everyone can be great. The most powerful quote from th...more
This book could be a great introduction to biographies on important people in history. In a classroom, I would have students study other famous people and have the students look for that person's big words. This would probably be done with older students in 4th or 5th grade. I would also like to ask students to find their own big words that they are passionate about and want to share with the class.

It begins with Martin as a child which can help children connect to him more since they can s...more
Rebecca Jasman
Publication Date: 2002

Genre: Biography

Awards won: ABC Children's Booksellers Choices Award, 2002 Winner Non-Fiction United States
Coretta Scott King Book Award, 2002 Honor Book Illustrator United States
Great Lakes Great Books Award, 2004 Honor Book Grades K-1 Michigan
Jane Addams Children's Book Award, 2002 Winner Picture Book United States
New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of the Year, 2001 Winner United States
Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, 2002 Honor Bo...more
Coretta Scott King Honor

Rappaport, D. (2001). Martin’s big words: The life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (B. Collier, Illustrator). New York, NY: Hyperion Paperbacks for Children.

Sometimes “big words” are measured by impact, rather than by length or difficulty. Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up hearing the big words used by his minister father, and he dreamed of someday using them himself. His words of revolution and peaceful protest changed the world. King’s...more
Sean Dornbush
It is hard to capture exactly what it is that Martin Luther King Jr. did for this country, especially when trying to portray how big of an impact it made in a book. I think Martin’s Big Words with its use of realistic illustrations and font style helps make it seem to the reader that the words of Martin Luther King Jr. are as real and powerful today as it was when he first spoke them from his own mouth. Since Bryan Collier uses realistic illustrations it brings the reader back to the time MLK or...more
I have never read this book before but I thought it was amazing and inspiring. I thought it was such a creative way to introduce children to a great historical figure like Martin Luther King. Children throughout the United States eventually learn of Martin Luther King and his story and the story of the civil rights. This is a great way to teach kids about a subject that can be very emotionally charged and hard to deal with in a tamer way. It is a fantastic representation of the genre and great f...more
Marissa Ramirez
What an amazing reading and powerful illustrations! This book conveys the biography of Martin Luther King Jr. through his “Big Words”. The big words that contained the main ideas of his message, of his work promoting and supporting African American people civil rights. The narration is simple yet to the point. The Realism style of the illustrations bring to life a Martin Luther King in diverse significant stages of his life and enhances the whole message of the “big words” (equality, freedom, pe...more
Alexis Overstreet
I think this book is very beneficial to children because they are learning about our past history. Not just history in general but something that is considered a pretty important part of history. The book expresses a bibliography of Martin Luther' s beginning with his childhood experience of seeing "White Only" signs sprinkled throughout his hometown. He questions his mother about their meaning, and she assures him, "You are as good as anyone." This makes Martin want to grow up and "he's going t...more
I found this book simply remarkable. I really enjoyed the actual story, but also the aspects of realism within the art of the book. The illustrations were so amazing! The book is a great example of a picture book biography, displaying a quite complex story of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. through history, but encompassed in a picture book that breaks down the complicated political and social events into simple concepts that the child can understand (making it very age appropriate for not on...more
Brigid Sullivan
This book recounts the life of Martin Luther King, from his time as a child in the church to his assassination. The book focuses on his specific words, their meanings, and how they affect the civil rights movement. For example, "Let Freedom Ring," "I have a dream," "Free at last" etc. It also addressed words associated with the civil right movement such as segregation and racism. It is geared towards middle elementary age students. The content is pretty deep for younger elementary but it can sti...more
Kelley Mabon
Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my favorite historical figures, so reading this picture book biography brought joy to my heart. I think the book is perfect for young children who have barely been introduced to MLK, or who are being introduced to him for the first time. It has the perfect balance of texts and illustrations that will help a young mind understand his life and his important contributions to society. I like how his quotes are integrated into the story, and that they are constructed...more
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Biography book review 1 7 Jun 18, 2012 03:42PM  
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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...
Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust Eleanor, Quiet No More To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt

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