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

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  8,923 Ratings  ·  950 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
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Sarah B. The genre would be Biography
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

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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
Jan 24, 2011 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
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I listened to this on overdrive and it was only about 15 minutes long, but the information that was shared was really nice. I enjoyed listening to this short story :)
Feb 03, 2011 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
Jan 22, 2013 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
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, it's the perfect day to promote this meaningful and beautifully illustrated children's book. And, since we're just a few days out from Inauguration Day here in the U.S., I will use some of Martin's words in an attempt to inspire myself and whoever else is reading:

"Sooner or later, all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace."


But, if we keep killing the most enlightened and inspired people amongst us, how will we ever do it?
Jan 20, 2010 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
Crystal Marcos
Feb 09, 2011 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
Feb 02, 2010 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
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.
Jun 03, 2012 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 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.
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
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.
Baby Bookworm
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-reviews
Hello everyone! It’s Friday, so we are continuing our Black History Month series with today’s book, Martin’s Big Words: The Life Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier.

This picture book biography of Dr. King uses the theme of his “big words,” i.e. his powerful writings and orations, to trace his story; from his roots as a pastor’s son growing up in the Jim Crow South, to a young activist advocating peaceful protest during the Montgomery bus b
Sarah Mcauliffe
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
"Martin's Big Words" focuses on just that, the big words he used to change inequalities in the south, and improve the lives of all Americans. The pictures look like they are out of a magazine and look three-dimensional. The layout of each page gives equal emphasis to his words and the pictures. On almost every page is a quote taken directly from Martin. This book discusses Martin's role in the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. This lets younger readers see his connection to Rosa Parks and helps build ...more
Jan 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This book is part of the Big Words series of picture books by Doreen Rappaport.

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
Laura Rumohr
Sep 28, 2009 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
(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
Mar 09, 2010 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 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
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:
Feb 22, 2011 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.
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.
Selah (abibliophilesstyle)
The perfect way to introduce young children to MLK Jr. During this part of his speech: ". . . one day . . . little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." my daughter's eyes got wide and said, "Oh, his dream came true!"
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.
Feb 25, 2008 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!
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The illustrations were wonderful! Great background to teach kids about Martin Luther King Jr. and his significance.
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.
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: younger-kids
This is a good introductory book about Martin Luther King Jr. My son did not really like the pictures, though.
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Big Words (6 books)
  • Frederick's Journey: The Life of Frederick Douglass
  • Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
  • Eleanor, Quiet No More
  • Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller
  • To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt

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