Each year, on the third Monday of January, we stop and remember the great nonviolent social justice initiative sparked by Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. With the kids out from school and the community packed with day-off patrons, why not avoid the crowded malls and parks and opt for a peaceful day of reflecting at home? Mix up some non-traditional iced tea, pull on a cozy throw and get reading with these 10 books inspired by social justice movements of the past and present.
1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates ($11): A New York Times bestseller, this memoir by Coates is raw, powerful and impossible to put down. Told through a series of letters to his teenaged son, Coates recounts his life from the Baltimore streets to a Howard University classroom, giving us his unfiltered thoughts on race and social justice throughout.
2. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine ($12): The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate and many others have raved about this groundbreaking book of poetry that tackles the hard subject of citizenship in 160 pages of verse.
3. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life by Marshall Frady ($12): Part of the Penguin Lives Biographies series, this biography covers the life of Martin Luther King in surprising detail. Written by the great Marshall Frady, it recounts every stage of MLK’s famous life and analyzes how his influence remains today.
4. March: Book Two by John Lewis ($14): Jumping off of the success of March: Book One, this graphic-novel account of the Civil Rights Movement is as visually stunning as it is informative. It’s a great read for teens and students this federal holiday.
5. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson ($10): Told through the eyes of Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard lawyer who spent his life standing up for the innocent and ineloquently defended, this is the story of the inequalities and racial bias plaguing the American prison system.
6. The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine ($6): This young adult novel follows the life of Marlee, age 13, as she discovers the horrors of segregation when she’s ripped apart from her best friend in Little Rock, Arkansas. Faced with everyday problems (like speaking aloud in public) and the great challenges of the Civil Rights Movement, this YA book is a great pick for a young reader.
7. The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement by Deckle Edge ($15): Drawing on his copious knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement, Edge recounts the 18 pivotal moments of the 1960s, including MLK’s first public address and his death in Memphis in 1968.
8. The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long ($16): In this moving graphic novel set in 1968 Houston, two young leaders of different backgrounds decide to protest together, despite their communities’ objections. Told by two narrators, it’s a powerful look at the dueling perspectives of the time set to beautiful illustrations.
9. The Nonviolence Handbook: A Guide for Practical Action by Michael N. Nagler ($12): Written by the co-founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at UC Berkeley, this textbook-style non-fiction is exactly what it sounds like: a practical guide to nonviolence following the teachings of great nonviolent leaders like MLK and Ghandi.
10. Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton ($7): This children’s book follows Paula, a young child with an activist father, who is growing up during the Civil Rights Movement. Recounting history like only a child can, this book is powerful, inspirational and definitely a must-read for January 18.
What are you reading this Martin Luther King Day? Tweet us at @BritandCo.