Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day With Children

Updated on October 13, 2018
Source

It happens the third Monday of January every year: the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. This celebration has been a federal holiday since 1983 and it was finally formally recognized as such in all 50 states by 2000. It's a day for celebrating racial diversity and remembering one of the most important leaders of the civil rights era. However, it's a holiday that might require a little thought to present to children as an entertaining option. Here's a couple of ideas of activities you can do with your children to help them appreciate the importance of this special day.

Cover of Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
Cover of Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport | Source

1. Share a Book With Them

There are a number of children's books that do a great job of presenting Dr. King's life and accomplishments in terms children can understand. Try some of these:

  1. Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. Rappaport uses key words from King's own important speeches to explain his actions and impact on the world in ways that children can understand. We learn that Martin hungered for big words by listening to the sermons his father made in church. We follow him from the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott through the march on Washington in 1963, and then to the Nobel Prize in 1964, and every step of the way, we read his words. Bryan Collier's brilliant watercolor paintings are vivid and lifelike. While the book does touch very briefly on King's assassination, but the author stresses that King's big words are still alive and important today.
  2. A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson. In 1963, two young girls sneak out of their home to join a number of their neighbors as they head for a protest march led by Dr. King. The stark, lifelike black and white line drawings by Eric Velasquez are punctuated on each page with a single stroke of red; this red, symbolizing the hope that King represents amid the despair of segregation and prejudice. This is the "sweet smell of roses" in the title.
  3. Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo. In this simple, straightforward biography, acclaimed children's author Jean Marzollo present the life of Dr. King in language children can understand. While this biography does not go into great detail, it does a good job of introducing younger children to the life and legacy of Dr. King.

There are lots of great books about Martin Luther King at your local library.
There are lots of great books about Martin Luther King at your local library. | Source

2. Introduce Them to His Speeches

One of the things Dr. King was known best for was his stirring, inspirational speeches. You can help your children understand his legacy by letting them listen to his words as he said them. Your local library may have recordings of his speeches available on Mp3 or CD. Alternatively, you can go to youtube and view videos such as this one:

I Have a Dream

3. Take Part in a Service Project

One of the new trends in celebrating Dr. King's life and legacy is the idea that this should be a service day rather than holiday. The Corporation for National and Community Service offers a website, with a searchable database that can help you find suitable service projects in your area. Community leaders can also add their own projects to the database and look for volunteers. Get involved with others in your neighborhood at work to make the world a better place, just as Dr. King did.

4. Make a Craft

Just for fun, try this easy Brotherhood Wreath. You will need:

  • A paper plate
  • Construction paper in different shades of peach, brown, and black
  • Scissors
  • A pencil
  • Your child's hand
  • Glue
  1. Cut a large round circle out of the very center of a standard paper plate. It will look like a donut.
  2. Trace your child's hand on a piece of peach, brown, or tan paper and cut it out. This will be your template.
  3. Trace around your template, and create at least three hands in different colors of brown, tan, peach, black, or other colors that resemble the natural colors of human skin.
  4. Glue the hands to the paper plate; alternate the different hand colors to show the hands of different colors side by side, working together.

Make a Brotherhood Wreath to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday.
Make a Brotherhood Wreath to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday. | Source

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image

        Kathy Carr 

        5 years ago

        Well crafted Hub. Good job on HOTD!

      • Billie Kelpin profile image

        Billie Kelpin 

        5 years ago from Newport Beach

        At the risk of being tagged as "overly promotional" by hubpages, I'd like to add the Fill-in-the-Blank 'I Have a Dream Speech' activity that I created on our website many years ago. As all of us on hubpages, I am in love with words and there was no one who could craft more soul-touching metaphorical meaningful language than Dr. King - to say nothing about his ability to move an entire nation toward monumental social change. Here's the link: http://www.languagerocks.com/-i-have-a-dream--spee... - Hope this will add to your important hub!

      • profile image

        Emunah 

        5 years ago

        Thanks For the beautiful Article!

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        5 years ago from The Caribbean

        Congratulations on your HOTD accolade. Very practical suggestions reflecting the true spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Voted Up!

      • suzettenaples profile image

        Suzette Walker 

        5 years ago from Taos, NM

        I love your idea of a Brotherhood Wreath! Congratulations on HOTD! This is a great hub and remembrance of MLK, Jr.

      • WiccanSage profile image

        Mackenzie Sage Wright 

        5 years ago

        Very nice craft, looks cute. Great hub, and congrats on winning Hub Of The Day. What a great opportunity to teach kids a little bit about history.

      • amiebutchko profile image

        Amie Butchko 

        5 years ago from Warwick, NY

        Great hub and great way to commemorate a special day. Often, the true spirit of a school holiday can get lost in the shuffle. I will certainly remember to celebrate this day with my children, underlining the importance of racial diversity and remembering this great leader - something he deserves so well.

      • Nadine May profile image

        Nadine May 

        5 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

        Congratulations on your featured hub. Loved reading your hub on Martin Luther King. He will always be remembered like Nelson Mandela will

      • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

        Susan Hazelton 

        6 years ago from Sunny Florida

        He definately was an important man. It was a terrible day when he was taken away from us. Wonderful suggestions on how to introduce children to this great man.

      • Paul Maplesden profile image

        Paul Maplesden 

        6 years ago from Asheville, NC

        Although not an American myself, I know how important MLK was to American History, Culture and changing people's viewpoints. I think your hub has taken a subject and really expanded upon it, providing lots of interesting perspectives for sharing the principles of this great man with children. A very worthwhile and timely article.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, holidappy.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://holidappy.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)