Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X
By Terreece Clarke,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Malcolm X's daughter portrays his childhood in earnest bio.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This book sets out to establish a kid-friendly look at the life of Malcolm Little and his family before he became known as Malcolm X. It introduces important moments in African-American history, including the Marcus Garvey Movement and the impact of the Ku Klux Klan on black people.
Malcolm Little carries several messages of hope and places a strong emphasis on overcoming obstacles. Many of the leadership characteristics Malcolm showed later in his life were nurtured when he was a young boy.
Positive Role Models
There are several role models here, including Malcolm Little and his parents. His parents are shown as loving nurturers who taught their children to love themselves, culture, and the world around them.
Violence & Scariness
Townspeople burn down the Little family's home (4-year-old Malcolm and his family are shown watching the house consumed by flames). A two-page spread depicts the funeral scene and coffin after the Ku Klux Klan murders Malcolm's father. After his father's death, the family lose their home, and all eight of the Little children become wards of the state, split up among family friends. Malcolm is shown being warmly welcomed by the couple who took him in.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X is a picture book about civil rights activist Malcolm X's life up through seventh grade, as told by his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz. It has some instances of violence, including townspeople burning down the Little family's Omaha, Nebraska, home (4-year-old Malcolm and his family are shown watching the house in flames) and his father's death at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan (discussed in a spread depicting the funeral scene and coffin). After his father's death, the family loses their home; all eight Little children become wards of the state, split up among family friends. Malcolm is shown being warmly welcomed by the couple who took him in.
Where to Read
There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
Malcolm Little grew up to be an influential leader in the civil rights movement, but before that he was a kid like everyone else. As a child, he learns valuable lessons about leadership, life, and respect for every living thing. Malcolm and his family endure many hardships -- including having their house burned down, Malcolm's father being killed by the Ku Klux Klan, and the eight siblings being split up and sent to live with other families -- but each time they find the courage, hope, and inspiration to go on. The story ends with Malcolm, the only person of color at his middle school, being elected seventh grade class president.
Is It Any Good?
Richly illustrated by AG Ford, MALCOLM LITTLE: THE BOY WHO GREW UP TO BECOME MALCOLM X details Malcolm X's life as a young boy. His daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, uses family history and stories to illuminate an often neglected area of her father's life.
Written in easy and somewhat repetitive prose, the stories reveal a child raised in a loving and nurturing environment despite the many struggles his family faced. Malcolm's early leadership qualities are seen as the product of both natural ability and the way he was brought up. Readers may find they can apply the Little family's lessons to their own life. Malcolm Little makes a nice companion piece to other, independent sources of information on the life of Malcolm X.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the difference between media portrayals of historical figures and family stories of their childhoods. What biases does each side have? Who would be better at telling your story, your mom or a local reporter? Why?
The time in which Malcolm Little grew up in America was difficult for people of various races, faiths, and orientations. Can you name a few ways things have gotten better? What does society still have to work on?
Malcolm Little's mother and father taught him important lessons about life. What lessons have you learned from your family? What lessons will you pass on to your children?
- Author: Ilyasah Shabazz
- Illustrator: AG Ford
- Genre: History
- Topics: History
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Atheneum
- Publication date: January 7, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 6 - 10
- Number of pages: 48
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 1, 2022
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Read
Our Editors Recommend
Civil Rights Books
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate