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My Brother Martin

A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Illustrated by Chris Soentpiet



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About The Book

Renowned educator Christine King Farris, older sister of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., joins with celebrated illustrator Chris Soentpiet to tell this “outstanding” (School Library Journal) and inspirational story of how one boyhood experience inspired a movement that would change the world as we know it.

Mother Dear, one day Im going to turn this world upside down.

Long before he became a world-famous dreamer, Martin Luther King Jr. was a little boy who played jokes and practiced the piano and made friends without considering race. But growing up in the segregated south of the 1930s taught young Martin a bitter lesson—little white children and little black children were not to play with one another. Martin decided then and there that something had to be done. And so he began the journey that would change the course of American history.

Reading Group Guide


This book looks at the early life of Martin Luther King, Jr., as seen through the eyes of his older sister.


Biography; African Americans; Christine King Farris; King family; Race relations


€ What was young Martin Luther King, Jr.'s response when his mother told him about the world and the things some people believed?

€ Why did Martin and others want to end the laws that made life different for black people than it was for white people?

€ What makes a hero?

€ What did Dr. King want to change in the United States?

€ What can we do today to help make the world a better place?


€ Have students fill in the blanks in the following sentences:
o Martin Luther King, Jr.'s father was a ________.
o This book was written by his ________.
o We know this story about Martin is true because____.

€ Begin your lesson on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., by assessing your students' prior knowledge using a K-W-L chart: List on a chart the facts that your students know about King. Next, ask them to tell you what they want to know about him. After reading the book, have students tell you what they have learned about him.

€ Research events of Dr. King's life and times and perform a classroom skit or play based on the information gathered.

€ As a class project, publish a little book on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

€ Have students work in cooperative groups of two or three to make a time line called "the life of Martin Luther King, Jr." Each group should use an 18" x 24" sheet of paper to depict one part of Dr. King's life and accomplishments.

€ Have students write a newspaper account of the march on Selma, Alabama, or any other significant event in the life of Dr. King.

€ Discuss the significance of the Nobel Peace Prize. Award each of your students a Peace prize for their work toward getting along well with others or finding peaceful solutions to conflicts.

€ Make or find an outline of Dr. King's silhouette. Cut it out of black paper. Let the students glue it onto white paper and then list the peaceful ways that students handle their problems. For example: To get along better with others I can...I can get along with my friends at school by...If someone treats me unfairly I can....To help a friend who is sad I could...

€ Point out to students that cities such as Atlanta, Georgia; Montgomery, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; and Washington, D.C., figured prominently in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ask: What other places can you think of that are closely associated with Dr. King? Write the name of each important location on the chalkboard. Challenge students to research a variety of print and online resources to find information about each of those places. Tell students that as they locate each place of importance on a blank map, they should write a sentence or two of explanation about the importance of that place in Dr. King's life. When students complete their maps, provide a time for them to display their maps and share what they learned with their classmates.

€ Take a virtual tour of King's boyhood home via the official website:

This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Prepared by Retta Eiland

© William Allen White Children's Book Award

Please visit for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.

About The Author

Christine King Farris is the sister of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the only surviving member of the King family. She is the author of the children's book My Brother Martin and has been on the faculty of Spelman College since 1958. She lives with her husband in Atlanta.

About The Illustrator

Chris Soentpiet (pronounced: soon-peet) is a recipient of a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators; has received accolades from the International Reading Association, Parents magazine, the American Library Association, the School Library Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Smithsonian; and has been recognized by the American Society of Portrait Artists Foundation. When not painting, Chris visits schools across the country promoting the love of children's literature and the arts. An honor graduate from Pratt Institute of Art, he lives in New York City with his wife. To learn more about Chris, visit his website at

Product Details

Awards and Honors

  • ILA Teachers' Choices
  • South Carolina Picture Book Award Nominee
  • Keystone to Reading Book Award Reading List (PA)
  • CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book
  • William Allen White Children's Book Award Reading List (KS)
  • Charlotte Award Suggested Reading List (NY)
  • Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Master List
  • Arizona Young Reader Book Award Nominee
  • ABC Children's Bookseller's Choices
  • Child Magazine's Guide to Top Books, Videos and Software of the Year
  • Volunteer State Book Award Nominee (TN)
  • Show Me Readers Award Final Nominee (MO)
  • NAACP Image Award Winner

Resources and Downloads

Common Core Suggestion

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Christine King Farris