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7 Kids' Audiobooks that Celebrate Service on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day

On January 17, 2022, the United States recognizes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, birthday as a National Day of Service where volunteers work together to make a difference in their communities. This day also provides an excellent opportunity to talk to children about making a difference in the world. These audiobooks about people who stand up for what’s right can provide the jumping-off point for those conversations.

Outside, Inside

by LeUyen Pham, read by Anastasia Nguyen 
Dreamscape, Ages 4-6

Anastasia Nguyen’s youthful, friendly voice takes listeners through communities of the world during the time when almost everyone went inside to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus. Sound effects and music enhance the atmosphere of this gentle audiobook and provide contrast between the life outdoors and our new, different indoor life, highlighting the role of essential workers and the Black Lives Matter protests. 

Kamala and Maya's Big Idea


written and read by Meena Harris
Harper Audio, Ages 4-6 

Written and narrated by the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, this uplifting audiobook was inspired by a true story from Kamala's childhood involving her sister Maya. With a fast pace and a bold, confident tone, Harris describes the young sisters' idea to turn the unused courtyard of their apartment building into a playground. The author's note conveys a personal connection and describes her admiration for both her mother and her aunt's "fierce determination to conquer the world." 

Hand in Hand

HAND IN HAND: Ten Black Men Who Changed America

by Andrea Davis Pinkney, read by Phil Morris, Adam Gifford, Zeno Robinson, Kyle Chapple, Ron Butler, Mela Lee
Hachette Audio, Ages 8+
AudioFile Earphones Award  

In alternating chapters, five talented male voices portray 10 African American men from the colonial era to the present day. With fascinating accounts of familiar role models ranging from author Benjamin Banneker to Barack Obama, the narrators create compelling portraits, injecting heart and soul into the details of the biographies. 

Start Now! You Can Make A Difference

START NOW! You Can Make a Difference
written and read by Chelsea Clinton
Listening Library, Ages 8+

Clinton's audiobook provides kids with tools to make a difference in their own lives, as well as in the lives of others and in the preservation of our planet. From nutrition to conservation, author and narrator Clinton offers simple science, practical ideas, and stories of real kids making change. 

Dawn Raid

by Pauline Vaeluaga Smith, read by Tameka Sowman Vahatau
Dreamscape Media, Ages 8+

The native New Zealand accent of narrator Tameka Sowman Vahatau brings context to a setting probably unfamiliar to most American kids. Through 12-year-old Sofia's first-person diary entries, listeners hear what life is like during political unrest in 1970s Wellington, New Zealand. When Sofia’s brother joins the Polynesian Panthers, a group protesting government injustices against native Maori and immigrant Pacific Islanders, Sofia begins to develop a deeper awareness of civil rights in her community. 

The Black Friend

THE BLACK FRIEND: On Being a Better White Person

by Frederick Joseph, read by Miebaka Yohannes
Brilliance Audio, Ages 12+ 
AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Miebaka Yohannes replicates the inviting conversational tone of Frederick Joseph's audiobook, which is aimed at a white audience. The audiobook addresses issues such as systemic racism, cultural appropriation, and becoming an "active accomplice." The balance of humor and sincerity creates a powerful audio for parents and teens to share. 

Revolution In Our Time

REVOLUTION IN OUR TIME: The Black Panther Party's Promise to the People

by Kekla Magoon, read by Tyla Collier
Listening Library, Ages 12+
AudioFile Earphones Award 

Tyla Collier delivers the author's narrative on how centuries of abuse to Black Americans led to deep unrest and the founding of the Black Panther Party. Clearly illuminated is the author's hope for today's youth to become the new vanguard of these goals, gaining equity in education, health care, justice, and politics.

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