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The Importance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A
Parent’s Guide for Helping Children See The

Another holiday, another day off school. That means sleeping in, playing games, being with friends, or just watching television. So, what actually is Martin Luther King Jr. Day all about? It celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was born on January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He became a Baptist minister and civil rights leader. He fought in the 1950’s and 1960’s to end segregation in the south and was able to get his messages out by using peaceful protests and nonviolent marches. He was assassinated on April 4th, 1968. Schools talk about the history of Martin Luther King and his purpose to this world. But the message that he worked to spread is the most important part of this day. Yes, Martin Luther King led with love, and yes, he stood up for the vulnerable, but what he did the best was see an injustice occurring and instead of turning a blind eye, he promoted solutions to fix it, and overcome it. According to an article by Discovery Point, “it’s a chance to share a message about the beauty of diversity.” That is the power that today holds, that is the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King, that is the theme of today. Below are some ways to help your child, no matter what age, begin seeing the importance of this holiday.

Younger Kids, Preschool Age

When working with preschoolers, it’s hard to begin explaining civil rights to children this young. Children do however learn fairness from a young age, and that is the foundation Dr. Martin Luther King was trying to build. According to an article by Discovery Point, fairness is where you begin with younger children. Webster’s describes fairness as “fair or impartial treatment: lack of favoritism toward one side or another.” Below are some ways you can begin instilling the value of fairness within your young child.

  • Teach Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: Yes, we all look different. Some have blonde hair, dark hair, male, female, short, tall, different skin colors, and cultures, but Dr. King taught us that we don’t see a person just by what’s on the outside,
    we have to understand the inside to see the person’s kindness. According to an article by Today a teacher named Marni Shapiro, teaches her class that the world is best when running on kindness and that means not judging others by their
    “wrapping paper.” According to Ms. Shapiro, another person’s “wrapping paper,” is their physical or everything that is seen on the outside of someone’s body. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to see behind the wrapping paper, it’s important
    to look beyond and get to know the person’s personality by talking with them. 
  • Peace Flower: According to Discovery Point this is a fun and easy craft to help a child see the beauty in diversity. To make a peace flower, you want to cut handprints out of construction paper. The construction paper used will be colors that symbolize skin tones. After you have your handprints cut out you want to arrange them in a way that makes a beautiful flower. The link for the step-by-step directions is below for your convenience.

Elementary School Kids

At this age, reading is a good way to allow children to understand more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and beliefs. Some book recommendations and activities to do with reading are listed below.

  • I Had A Dream Activity: As the parent you can read Martin Luther King’s “I Had a Dream” speech with your children. After, allow them to fill out a handout that has them reflect on what dreams they have, and how they can inspire the world
    to be a better and fairer place. The handout needed for this activity will be listed at the end of the article.
  • Book Recommendations:
    • Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther Ling Jr.’s Dream and You
      by Carole Boston Weatherford
    • Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
      by Doreen Rappaport
    • I Have A Dream
      by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Teenagers/ High Schoolers

When children enter high school, they understand a little bit more about Martin Luther King’s message and can actually begin doing action to begin making the world a better place. A good way for teenagers to celebrate the holiday is by giving back however that may look. They could volunteer for a couple hours out of the day, they could give away old clothes to individuals who may be struggling, or just live from a place of kindness. Below are some websites that will help locate local volunteer opportunities around your hometown.


  • Discovery Point: 2023.
  • Merriam-Websters Dictionary: 2023.

Handouts Needed For Activities.

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