An MLK Day with Meaning

Patch has some great ideas for teaching your kids about diversity and acceptance this Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 21.

Your child might think of Monday, Jan. 21 as just another day off from school.

But you can use Martin Luther King Jr., Day as an opportunity to teach them about the civil rights movement, the importance of racial equality, Martin Luther King Jr., and his legacy.

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., Day by talking to your children about King. What do they know about the man, and about the civil rights movement? What do they know about King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech? What do they believe was his intended message? Ask your children to tell you what they've learned about King, and then help fill in the gaps. (Many children think Dr. King was a phyician!)

For example, do they know that he was the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize? If you need some help, click here. Learning about King and his hopes for the future is a wonderful way to celebrate and honor him.

Other possible teachable moments:

  • Volunteer. King was such a proponent of civil service, so one of the greatest ways to honor his legacy is to give back to your community. In fact, in recent years, growing numbers of Americans have spent Martin Luther King Jr., Day volunteering, in what has become known as the Martin Luther King Jr., Day of Service. Spend an afternoon helping out at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Visit with residents at a nursing home. Give a few hours at your local library or YMCA. If you need help finding a place to donate your time, enter your zip code at Volunteermatch.org or USAfreedomcorps.gov.
  • Watch the Presidential Inauguration for Barack Obama's second term, which will be held on Martin Luther King Jr., Day, in Washington D.C. Talk to your children about the importance of diversity and racial equality in our society. Could America's first black president have been elected if not for the efforts of Martin Luther King Jr.? Why or why not?
  • Be kind to others. King dreamed of a world in which his children would be "judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Be kind and tolerant, and stand up to those who are not kind and tolerant of others.
  • Read about King in these books, which may be available at your local library:
    1. A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by by David A. Adler
    2. My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up With the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Christine King Farris
    3. Dear Dr. King: Letters from Today's Children to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Jan Colbert and Ann McMillan Harms


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