While the older children in your household are likely to have a better grasp on the civil rights movement and King’s efforts, start small with the little ones by explaining how everyone can help make a difference in the world through kindness and respect, just like King did.
Here are five ways you can help even the youngest member of your family understand the importance of his life.
1. Read a book:
Reading stories to your child can be a great way for them to learn about King’s life. Children’s books, like “My Brother Martin” by Christine King Farris or “My First Biography of Martin Luther King Jr.” by Marion Dane Bauer, that are geared toward young readers ages 3 and up can be thoughtful and educational explainers for little minds. For more Martin Luther King Jr. Day reading recommendations, check out the Scholastic MLK picture book roundup, their list of MLK books for early readers or their MLK books for ages 10 and up.
2. Discuss hopes and dreams:
Drawing inspiration from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, ask your children what their dreams are. What inspires them? Talk about ways that your family can make the world a better place, just like King did. You can also write them down and hang the paper on your fridge (or elsewhere in your home) to serve as a source of inspiration throughout the year.
Children learn through example, so donating your time and demonstrating the importance of helping others will establish a lifetime of giving back for your kids. Go to NationalService.gov to locate an age-appropriate volunteer opportunity near you.
4. Art projects:
Have your children trace their hands on construction paper and cut them out. Overlap each hand to form a circle and glue them down to a sheet of paper to show that no matter how different we look on the outside, we are all the same on the inside. This learning activity helps demonstrate unity and respect. Invite the neighborhood kids or friends from school over to join in!
5. Look for local events:
Check your local newspaper listings or local blogs for MLK Day events. Many towns and cities host parades to honor and celebrate King’s life. A family outing like that can be a fun and a culturally enriching way to learn more about his life’s work.