About the Book
Martin Luther King, Jr. is considered one of our greatest American heroes.
His courage, his commitment to his beliefs, and perhaps most of all
the legacy of his speeches and words, still resonate with adults and
children alike. In this brilliant picture book, Doreen Rappaport has
taken a new approach to this great man's life. Using quotes, or as Martin
refers to them, "big words", she gives the readers a new understanding
of the words that had such an impact on Martin. Weaving her words in
with his own, the text conveys the power that words have to motivate,
reassure, and even change lives. Bryan Collier's stunning illustrations
add to this inspiring text to create a unique and beautiful book. His
use of stained-glass windows throughout are used to represent different
races and add a breathtaking quality of quietness, power, and grace
to the "big words" found throughout the book. There have been many books
published about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the role he played in our
history, but this book truly stands as an amazing tribute to his life
and gives access to his powerful words even for the youngest of listeners.
Set the Stage
Before sharing the book with your students, discuss what they already
know about Martin Luther King, Jr. Weave into their responses the idea
that one of the things most remembered about this great man are the
speeches he gave and how he used words to inspire and motivate people
to join his cause. Challenge your students to listen for the "big" words
found throughout the book and to consider why they have such an impact
on people even today. Also, remind them that Martin lived in a very
difficult time and yet accomplished so much. Encourage them to see if
they can discover what gave him the courage to face and overcome so
Ask them what the
Caldecott award is given for. Share with them that Bryan Collier's illustrations
won the Caldecott honor for his art in this book. Ask them to look closely
at the illustrations and see if they can determine what art style he
used, if there is a theme to his illustrations, and how the illustrations
complement the text.
Review the Book
After students have read/listened to Martin's Big Words, have
them reflect on the meaning of the story with the following sample discussion
What did Martin mean when he said, "When I grow up, I'm going
to get big words, too"?
What are some of Martin's big words?
many times does the American flag appear in the book?
Here's an activity your students can complete after reading Martin's
Big Words. Discuss the quotes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke,
which are featured throughout this book. Explain to students that in
this activity there are nine quotes, but each quote is missing a word.
Students find the correct word then write it in the line. We also included
a fun "Big Word" search for students.
For more ideas on using Martin's Big Words in your classroom,
see these related resources.
Read other teachers'
ideas about how to celebrate Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Learn about African-Americans
who shaped history with this CyberHunt
Find out more
Bryan Collier in the Authors and Books section of our site.