Me: Who is Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Daughter (7yo): They have a book about him in the library, but I forgot who he was.
Son (9yo): Ok Mommy, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the first person who started the civil rights. Blacks and Whites were separated. It was called racism. Blacks couldn’t go to certain restaurants, restrooms, or schools and Martin Luther King had a problem with all that! He stood for Jesus and Civil Rights! Everybody loved him, but then someone walked up to him and shot him! That’s who Martin Luther King, Jr. was!
After listening to my children tell me what they know or don’t know about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it made me feel like I honestly need to do more. My daughter has a book about him, that we’ve read a few times but it seems like the information went in one ear and out of the other.
I believe my son knows more about Dr. King because he has been learning more about racism, slavery and black history at school over the last two years. I will be honest, I haven’t taught my children a lot about racism. My son started learning about slavery, being called colored, and what being separated because of color means and then the questions started.
I believe I didn’t want to teach them about racism yet, because I didn’t want to see the hurt in their eyes after I explained that people will actually treat you different because of the color of your skin. The fact is, that their great grandparents didn’t live and enjoy the freedoms they do now. I knew the light in their eyes would dim, and even look at the world differently. It’s something that we have to teach and talk about, but I just wasn’t ready yet.
It is time.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday & holiday are coming up on January 15/19, and I wanted to share a few books, and one printable activity that you could use to teach your children about a man whose present actions changed our future.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 25 when he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was soon organizing black people across the country in support of the right to vote, desegregation, and other basic civil rights. With clearly written text that explains this tumultuous time in history and 80 black-and-white illustrations, this Who Was?? celebrates the vision and the legacy of a remarkable man.
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. Paperback $5.29
As with Adler’s previous books in this series, the picture-book format serves as a highly effective, empathetic way to introduce the life and legacy of important Americans to young children. Here the highlights of King’s life are presented with an emphasis on his childhood and family. Children will immediately relate to his painful early experiences of racism and understand the genesis of his lifelong struggle for racial equality. Ages 4-9
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Paperback $7.99
This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life. With stunning art by acclaimed illustrator Bryan Collier, Martin’s Big Words is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America-and the world-forever.
Printable Activity! After you read these books, here’s a fun tool that will allow them to write who is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and what dream do they have for themselves and family. Click to download!
What do your children know about Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Have you talked to your children about racism?