Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Bonnie Bader
Grosset & Dunlap, 2008
Grades 2-5

Bader traces the life of famous Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. from birth, through his important career and, tragically, his death and aftermath. Sidebars offer background information on a variety of topics from Jim Crow laws to the main points of the Civil Rights act of 1964. Cartoon-like illustrations by Elizabeth Wolf occur on practically every page to further tell the story and to entertain the reader. Bader concludes with a time line of both King's life and of the greater world during his lifespan. She includes a bibliography on the last page encouraging kids to read more about the topic.

The "Who Was" series is wildly popular in my library. We own the whole set, sometimes in multiples, and can't seem to keep them on the shelf. Why are they so popular? They are non-fiction written like fiction. Unlike the narrative non-fiction of the past (The Childhood of Famous Americans series) these books are evenly balanced accounts of the facts from the featured person's life. The cartoon-like illustrations, short chapters, compact book size, large print and wide margins make them very inviting and non-intimidating. The bobble-head covers serve to make the series distinctive and draws the reader in further. Though fun to read, the books are carefully researched and historically accurate. I learned things about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement I never knew before. The information is presented in connected sound bites, which is perfect for today's young people. A great choice for the chapter book set, give this to kids who love non-fiction. Grosset & Dunlap have figured out how to make reading non-fiction fun for kids and they don't break from the formula. Nor should they. Kids everywhere are learning about great people and events from both the past and the present and are loving every minute of it! 

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