Martin Luther King Day Activities and Ideas
By Sally Tusa
Looking for ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day? Look no further. Below is a list of activities and ideas for parents or teachers to do with kids in honor of Dr. King's birthday. Check out our recommendations for books, music, games, and crafts.
Why Do We Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day?
Just days after his death in 1968, Congress introduced a bill intended to recognize his birthday as a national holiday, but it took almost 20 years for the bill to become law. Although King’s ideals were embraced by many, there were certainly those who resisted his call for change, and, after his death, worked against recognizing his many achievements.
These groups pointed out the cost to the country (said to be in the billions) of another national holiday on the calendar and questioned why the United States should recognize King over any other well-known person. Yet King’s supporters pressed on, offering up petitions and conducting marches--just the way King would have done things himself--until the bill was signed into law and the first official Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated in 1986. In the state of New Hampshire, the holiday is officially called "Civil Rights Day."
How to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Schools across the country take advantage of this time of year to teach students about Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights movement, and the importance of racial equality.
But you don’t have to let your children’s teachers do all of the talking--MLK Day offers a perfect opportunity for families to spend time together learning about King's legacy.
Read books about King.
The Kansas City Public Library recommends these books for parents to read with their kids:
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by by David A. Adler: King’s life illustrated for kids
My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up With the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Christine King Farris: King’s sister offers her perspective on what influenced him
Dear Dr. King: Letters from Today's Children to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Jan Colbert and Ann McMillan Harms: A look a race relations in America today through the eyes of children
Read on to learn more tips...
Sally Tusa is a freelance writer and editor based in Manhattan.