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Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Today is a perfect time to teach your kids about courage, freedom, discrimination, and poetry. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and message offers excellent opportunities for parent-children discussions about discrimination, love, tolerance, respect, and history.

So today, from my freezing corner in Canada, my kids and I will be watching Youtube clips from the famous “I had A Dream Speech.”  We will be reading some great kids’ books about the history of the civil rights movement, and about MLK’s life and words.  We’ll learn from some websites, and listen to some music inspired by MLK and civil rights.  Finally, we’ll sit by the fireplace with our hot chocolate and talk.  Here are some great resources to inspire your discussions:


1- Full “I have A Dream” speech:

2- “We shall overcome” speech:



1- Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Doreen Rappaport. A picture book that combines narrative of King’s life with words from his speeches.  Simple, but poignant, I come back to this book again and again.  Beginning with King’s childhood of first seeing “Whites Only” sign, and his mother assures him, “You are as good as anyone,” even young kids can relate to the themes of injustice and courage.  AGES: 5 and up.

2- Rosa by Nikki Giovanni. An excellent summary of the civil rights movement, this beautifully illustrated book captures the impact of Park’s act of civil disobedience.  AGES: 8 and up.

3- Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine. Excellent history book about slavery.  The true story of Henry Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom.  Crucial information for kids who will wonder about the history of African-Americans prior to the civil rights movement.  AGES: 7 and up.


1- Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan. Lots of links to listen to this folk classic.  Even if the kids initially balk at the voice, the lyrics are timeless.

2- This Little Light of Mine sung  by Sam Cooke. Originally a children’s song, it became a song about personal empowerment during the Civil Rights Movement.  Sam Cooke: What a gorgeous voice!

I hope you will find these resources useful for jump starting discussions and for learning with your family.  Feel free to  comment and add to my list of recommendations.

For ideas on activities with younger children, I recommend this link: http://thinkmagnetkids.com/2012/01/13/mlk-day



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