Monday, January 16, is a federal holiday in honor of the great civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What do you plan to do that day with your children? Is it just another day off for you to spend time doing chores at home or shopping? I strongly suggest that you take the time to plan celebrating this holiday and teaching your children about all the accomplishments of this American hero and his tremendous impact on us, and of course, incorporate reading into all your activities.
What are some of the things that you can do? In her online article on Scholastic.com, Teach Kids About Martin Luther King, Jr., author Denene Millner makes some good suggestions. First, she says to be honest when talking with your children, even though it may be painful. Explain to your children that there were days when “Colored People” had their own drinking water fountains. Tell them about being forced to sit in the back of a bus or to attend separate schools just because of the color of your skin. Show them pictures of the past so that they can see for themselves what actually happened.
Second, discuss what Dr. King did that directly affects us today and how he promoted nonviolence.
Third, attend and volunteer at events that honor him. Do some research in your community to find out what are the best activities for your family.
In addition to what Ms. Millner recommends, I would like to recommend that parents discuss who Dr. King was. Let your children find out all about his interesting background, including that he was a brilliant man who started college when he was 15 years old! I’m certain that he did a lot of reading as he grew up. Importantly, he was not only a brave leader, but he was also a husband, father, and minister.
There are many wonderful books about Dr. King for every age group. Visit your local library or bookstore. He should not be just a memory in history. Make this hero come alive for your children because there is so much that they can learn from him.
To read Ms. Millner’s entire article, click here.