Happy Belated Birthday to Dr. King! While we as a nation will officially celebrate on Monday, we should not forget (or let our children forget) that January 15th was his actual birthday.

Today’s Thoughtful Thursday will break from our normal poetry/inspirational quotes offering to ask: How are you planning to commemorate Dr. King’s holiday?  Here are an assortment of suggestions for you and your children to consider:

Participate in A Day of Service:

Dr. King’s birthday is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.  Monday January 20, 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates Dr. King’s  life and legacy.

Interested? Discuss with your family what you can all do to improve your community in honor of Dr. King. Maybe you can pick up litter on  your block, or donate gently used toys and books to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or a local shelter.  If you want to spend the day focused on serving others, check local senior centers, churches and community centers for ideas about what you could do. If  your children help decide what to do, they are more likely to be interested and engaged in the activity.

Need help finding places to volunteer?  The Corporation for National Community Service, which leads the Day of Service effort, can help.  Their website has a database offering volunteer opportunities nationwide.

Take a History Lesson:

You and your children can celebrate the holiday by learning more about Dr. King and his work.  The New York Times’ teacher’s series, The Learning Network,  offers lesson plans and resources “for bringing the world into your classroom”.  They have an extensive lesson plan for celebrating and teaching the legacy of Dr. King, which you can find here.  You will find ample material to fuel many informative discussions about Dr. King and his work.

Dive into Dr. King’s speeches:

Most people know about King’s  “I Have a Dream” speech, but what about some of his lesser known inspirational speeches?  You and your children can spend some time exploring some of King’s speeches here.  You can also watch him deliver his powerful 1964 Nobel Peace Prize Address here.

Books, Books, Books:

Here are lots of suggestions for books about Dr. King to read with your children. If you have the time, take an opportunity to go to a library or bookstore this weekend with your kids to find these and other books.  (There are Amazon links on the book titles as well, in case you don’t have the time.)

For younger children (preschool and elementary school):

 My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris

My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Martin Luther King III; illustrated by A.G Ford

March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World by Christine King Farris

My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, III

The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Johnny Ray Moore

Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport

I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer

My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringgold

Enough! 20 Protestors Who Changed America by Emily Easton.

Middle Schoolers:

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Middle-grade readers with interest in superheroes may appreciate “The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes” by Lora L. Hyler,  in which African American seventh grader Marty Hayes uses science and spying (his two passions) along with his secret superpower inherited from his grandmother (who used her superpower to help Dr. King) to foil an international spy ring.  The author notes: “I feature American history through black spies and key figures such as Ruby Bridges and Josephine Baker, along with Dr. King”.  (Sounds great!)

For teens and adults:

March: Book One by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illustrated by Nate Powell. A graphic novel.

The Autobiography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Clayborne Carson

The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age by Patrick Parr

Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting Rights Act of 1965  by David J. Garrow

Let the Trumpet Sound by Stephen B. Oates

The Words of African-American Heroes by Clara Villarosa  includes inspirational quotes from King and many others.


Have a great MLK day!  Let us know how you plan to celebrate it!