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My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Martin Luther King III, AG Ford (Illustrator)

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My sister Yolanda, who we called Yoki, and I wanted to go to Funtown more than anything. "Well, kids, you know Daddy is working very hard so that you and all children can go to Funtown, but it's not possible today," Daddy would say. "Maybe next week." But that week never came.

"You just don't want to take us!" Yoki


My sister Yolanda, who we called Yoki, and I wanted to go to Funtown more than anything. "Well, kids, you know Daddy is working very hard so that you and all children can go to Funtown, but it's not possible today," Daddy would say. "Maybe next week." But that week never came.

"You just don't want to take us!" Yoki wailed. And finally my mother explained. We were not allowed in Funtown. The rides and the roller coasters were for white people only. That's how it was when I was growing up. My dad fought to change that.

It wasn't always easy being the young son of the famed civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lots of people didn't agree with Dr. King and Martin Luther King III, who was called Marty as a child. Marty faced bullies who picked on him because of his name and skin color. But Marty knew his father wanted to make the world a better place for everyone. And he was also a part of the changing times.

In this poignant picture book memoir, Martin Luther King III and New York Times bestselling artist AG Ford capture the ordinary and extraordinary moments from Martin's brief childhood with his father, the revered civil rights hero.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“There have been a lot of books written about my father. But not a whole lot has been written about my dad,” explains King, the second of four children of the civil rights leader. Personal anecdotes appear throughout this picture book biography, demonstrating how King’s activism at times took a toll on his family. A trip to an amusement park is repeatedly deferred (“Finally my mother explained. We were not allowed in Funtown”), a young Martin is nervous about letting other kids know who his father is, and he’s viscerally upset when his father is repeatedly arrested, consoling his older sister after being comforted by their mother. Readers get a sense of King’s reputation and goals amid the family stories; in an especially powerful anecdote, King describes burning toy guns in a backyard bonfire. “Nonviolence wasn’t just for marches and protests,” he writes. “It was for home as well.” Though occasionally somewhat posed, Ford’s oil-and-acrylic paintings depict both the likenesses of the King family and the close-knit bond that saw them through many dark moments. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
His oldest son remembers the civil rights leader with affection and pride. Called Marty as a child, Martin Luther King III spent his childhood learning difficult lessons about segregation, jail and protest marches. He and his sister were eager to go to an amusement park until their parents finally told them that it was only for white people. When he and his brother received toy guns for Christmas, they were told that guns are destructive weapons and watched as their parents burnt them in a bonfire. In the third grade, the author reluctantly integrated a school and faced taunts, relatively mild in the book, as the only African-American in his class. As importantly, Dr. King was a loving and playful father to his children. Adults sharing this title with young readers can make a connection between the words of Dr. King's landmark "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28th, 1963, and their own family memories. Ford's full-page color paintings bring to mind photographs of the period in their depiction of family scenes and civil rights marches. Final art not seen. An effective title to introduce young readers to Dr. King's message of peace and equal rights; though it's hardly the only picture book about the slain leader, the child's-eye view is a valuable one. (afterword) (Picture book/biography 4-7)
The New York Times - Blanca Melendez
AG Ford…paints scenes of the King family in an almost photorealistic style, with detailed facial expressions. The clear and vibrantly colored illustrations parallel the straightforward language of the narrative.
Children's Literature - Anita Lock
"There have been a lot of books written about my father. But not a whole lot has been written about my dad. This book is about my daddy." These are the words of Martin Luther King III, the second of the four children in the King household. In this iconic book, King takes young readers back to the time when he was a child. Named Marty, to distinguish him from his famous daddy, he shares how it was difficult both to be just an ordinary kid during a time when kids were not treated equally, and to be growing up as the son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Marty remembers when he and his sister, Yoki, wanted more than anything to go to Funtown. But their daddy said that he was working hard so that all children could go there, because the rides were only for white people. Maybe next week, daddy would say, but that week never came. Nonetheless, Marty's times at home were fun. He enjoyed when his daddy tossed a football with him and taught him how to shoot hoops. But that was at home. Away from home was different. Kids at school knew who Marty's daddy was, and some thought he was a troublemaker. As a result, Marty was bullied often. When kids asked what his name was, he was afraid to tell them, so he would say that he forgot. It did not help when he heard on his way home from school one day that his father, as well as eighty other people, had been thrown into jail. Marty's mom encouraged him not to worry and assured him that daddy would be back home. Marty recalls marching in a protest once. Even though the marchers/protesters were peaceful, that did not stop police officers from spraying them with fire hoses, or turning dogs on them. He even remembers a time when a police officer approached his daddy and him with a huge dog that viciously growled at them. It did not matter how bad it got, Marty's daddy never fought back. We must meet violence with nonviolence. We must meet hate with love. Marty would often hear these comments from his daddy. More than that, his daddy practiced what he preached at home as well as away from home. By the time Marty was in third grade, the laws changed and he and Yoki were able to attend a white school. That happened in September 1968. It was because his daddy fought for his children to be treated equally and not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Marty's daddy never saw him start at this new school. Marty was ten years old when his daddy was killed in March. This poignant yet simple story, told through the eyes of a young Martin Luther King III, is coupled with Ford's impeccable oil and acrylic illustrations that earmark this historical book as truly one of a kind and which I highly recommend is a must to add to your book shelf. Reviewer: Anita Lock
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—King's remembrance of his father is an intimate introduction to the civil rights leader, revealing happy family moments as well as fear and personal pain amid the turbulence engulfing the nation in the 1960s. Kids will enjoy and perhaps identify with the playful interactions between "Marty" and his dad, who would put his son on top of the refrigerator and then catch him in his arms. Contrasting such warm memories are those of the King children hearing on the radio about their father's arrest and enduring bigotry at their new, integrated school. King's son is frank about the ugly clashes of the Civil Rights Movement, but he writes about them in an age-appropriate manner. The style is simple and conversational, as though the author were chatting with readers, reinforcing the personal spirit of the book. His effort to share some of the legendary leader's life as a private citizen makes his father approachable and real, a nice beginning to the relationship students will have with the influential man in their American history classes. It also provides an important firsthand account of the agony and frustration of prejudice experienced by many African American families. Ford's artwork is laudable, but in some illustrations, the heads of Dr. King and his wife are disproportionately large and oddly rendered. Overall, though, the forthrightness of Ford's palette and technique complement the text.—Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.30(d)
AD680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Martin Luther King IIIis the elder son of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Coretta Scott King. He is a human rights advocate and community activist. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Arndrea, and his daughter, Yolanda Renee.

AG Ford is the illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Barack by Jonah Winter and also of Michelle and First Family by Deborah Hopkinson. He is the recipient of an NAACP Image Award.

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