How to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Teach your kids about the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as about the importance of the civil rights movement and cultural diversity.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated the third Monday in January in honor of his birthday — January 15. From books to videos and celebrations to special events, many resources are available to teach your children about MLK.
Read Martin Luther King books
Choose age-appropriate books to teach your kids about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. Even very young kids can benefit from learning about the life and teachings of Dr. King. Read the books with your kids and talk to them about racial diversity and what it means to be considered equal.
Here are a few reading suggestions to consider, depending on the age of your children.
- For preschoolers: A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- For grade school kids: Meet Martin Luther King, Jr.
- For high schoolers: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Celebrate MLK's birthday by appreciating diversity. You can create a multicultural dinner where you serve food from various parts of the country and the world. From Italian pasta to Boston clam chowder and Chinese egg rolls to Atlanta peach pie, your children will love learning about the different cultures and foods from around the globe. Talk to your kids about the diversity in your own family, and how we all are really from the same melting pot.
Since most schools are closed on MLK Day, allow your children to help out in the kitchen preparing your special meal.
More: Read about teaching kids to embrace diversity and be inclusive
Listen to his words
The Seattle Times has put together a special MLK section that is especially helpful to parents, teachers and children. It includes Dr. King's biography, photo galleries, a timeline, quizzes, and a selection of his speeches, sermons and letters. Allow your kids to listen or read his "I Have a Dream" speech and other excerpts. Discuss what his words mean.
Talk about the civil rights movement and some of the problems that still exist today. The King Center website is also a fabulous resource for information about Dr. King, his life and his message.
Teens may have interesting insights into diversity and equality as they see it. Take this opportunity to engage them in a discussion of what they see and how they might change it for the better.
Attend special events
Almost every major city in the country holds special events and celebrations on MLK Day. Find out if there are any marches, parades, seminars, church services or other activities in your area. Check with your chamber of commerce, convention and visitor's bureau, parks and recreation department, libraries and museums to find out about events you may be interested in attending.
Older children may be involved in programs at school during the week of MLK Day. Let them "teach" younger siblings what they have learned at school.
More: Check out these ways to teach kids about racial and cultural diversity
Learn about Black History Month
As a follow-up to MLK Day, start planning ahead for Black History Month in February. Black History Month celebrates the achievements and contributions of African-Americans in U.S. History. The History Channel offers a number of TV shows, online articles, videos, photo galleries, book suggestions and other interactives that can be helpful in teaching your children about Black History Month.