Today, we celebrate a man of vision who sought to unify our country through equality and love. Yet, many of our children are only vaguely familiar with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the amazing legacy he created. As parents, we are the first educational resource our children have and we are almost always the ones who lay the foundation for how and what our children learn.
In addition, with the growing trend of homeschooling and supplemental education in the home, it’s important to have a resource list to pull from to teach our children. Educating the next generation is the key component in keeping Dr. King’s dream alive, the simple dream of equality for all and love for one’s fellow countrymen.
Below you will find a list of books and activities that will aid in teaching the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The books and activities are noted with the appropriate age level.
I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer (PreK)
- This picture book introduces young children to Dr. King and teaches them that everyone can be a hero.
My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart by Angela Farris Watkins (PreK)
- This story is told from the perspective of Dr. King’s young niece, and introduces Dr. King to children from a child’s perspective.
I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Elementary School)
- This book is the full I Have a Dream speech. It also comes with an audio CD of the speech.
My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris (Elementary School)
- In this story, Dr. King’s sister Christine shares memories of her life growing up with him.
My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther, III King (Elementary School)
- This story looks at the experiences Martin Luther King Jr.’s son had being the child of the Civil Rights leader.
Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Bonnie Bader (Middle School)
- This chapter book includes many illustrations and describes who Dr. King was and the legacy he left behind.
Free At Last: The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Angela Bull (Middle School)
- This biography is perfect for middle schoolers and details Dr. King’s life from childhood to his untimely death.
My Life With Martin Luther King Jr. by Coretta Scott King (High School)
- Written by Dr. King’s widow, this memoir frames the life that Coretta Scott King led as the wife of the Civil Rights leader.
The Martin Luther King, Jr., Encyclopedia by Clayborne Carson, Tenisha Armstrong, Susan Carson, Erin Cook, and Susan Englander (High School)
- This encyclopedia contains more than 280 entries that provide multi-faceted insight into the life and work or Dr. King.
Coloring and Crafts for Peace (PreK and Kindergarten)
- Teaching the concept of peace at an early age is important. In this activity coloring pages and crafts are used to explain the concept of peace to younger children who can’t read or write yet. A simple internet search will generate many peace-related coloring pages and these pages can be printed and made into a coloring booklet. Or, instead of a coloring booklet, kids can color a peace sign or peace dove to hang up in their rooms. As the kids color, that leading adult can discuss the concept of peace and why it’s so important.
We’re All Unique: Teaching Tolerance (Elementary and Middle School)
- With bullying incidents on the rise, it’s important to teach our kids about tolerance and respect for others. With just one child or a group of children, discuss why being different makes us unique and being unique is a positive thing. Have the kids draw on plain paper what they consider to be unique attributes, both physical and non-physical, and specifically what they consider to be their unique attributes. They can draw pictures or color in words. After they are finished, discuss why it’s important to respect and celebrate our individual unique qualities and why it’s never okay to tease or bully each other about them.
Illustrate Your Dreams (Middle School and High School)
- It’s important for kids to acknowledge and illustrate their hopes and dreams. Dr. King had a dream, spoke it into existence, and put it into action. In this activity, kids will use paper, art materials, magazines, and newspaper to create a visual to showcase their dreams. They can draw, paint, cut, and glue 2D and 3D art to create their artwork. Once they have completed their artwork, they can present it to their peers.
National Day of Service Activities and MLK Day Walks (All Ages)
- Most towns and cities have National Day of Service Activities and Martin Luther King Jr. Day walks. Information on the times and locations of these activities can be found on town and city websites or through internet searches.