Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day to honor the life and work of the monumental leader who played a key role in the American civil rights movement and the advancement of civil rights for African Americans. Taking a bit of time to reflect with your family on MLK Day is important because it serves as a reminder of the progress that has been made towards achieving equal rights and justice for all people, and it encourages continued efforts to promote these ideals. Furthermore, the earlier children become familiar with the values associated with equality the more likely they will carry these values with them later in life. Below are a few meaningful ways to celebrate MLK day with your family this year.
- Go to the library - As always, the library can be your first stop for information and inspiration. See what books the children’s section has displayed that can explain the history behind this holiday in a way that is child-appropriate. Check and see if the library is hosting any children’s events or real-alouds in celebration of Martin Luther King Day. And if you’re looking for an engaging audio experience, check out Storypod’s I am Martin Luther King, Jr. Token! This biography breaks down complex issues and tough historical events in a way that’s understandable and meaningful to young children.
- Listen to the “I Have a Dream Speech” and create some art - Although this historic speech is about 17 minutes long and contains some language and ideas that may go above your young child’s head, there are short clips of the most iconic parts of his message available that your little one can understand and take to heart. Listen as a family and have a short discussion about what that message means. Then, create a drawing illustrating those ideas. Examples include diverse people holding hands, peace signs, doves, hearts, and rainbows.
- Support a black-owned business - Do your part to close the wealth gap and strengthen your local economy by supporting a black-owned business with your family on this very special holiday. From eating at a black-owned restaurant to supporting a local artist, there are sure to be plenty of opportunities with just a bit of research. Plus, it’s fun to try something new!
- Visit a museum or do a virtual tour - Check out your local museum and see if they have any exhibits on the civil rights movement or Black history. Museums do a beautiful job of bringing history to life and will certainly encourage your child to learn more!
- Donate to organizations working toward equity and social justice - Even very young children will gain a sense of pride when contributing to a cause. Although they may not be donating the money themselves, get them involved by having them draw a picture, write a short note, or address the envelope and put it in the mailbox.