Commemorating a dream

Your family can celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. with these book recommendations for kids.

Google "Martin Luther King, Jr." and you'll find countless links to biographies, timelines, speeches and articles on this modern-day American hero. But after sifting through a number of these, I wonder about the boy who became the man who became the leader of the civil rights movement. I imagine conversations around the dinner table, like my family used to have, and how this influenced King's views about right and wrong, racial inequality and class struggles. I remain convinced that his father, the preacher, and his mother, the teacher, profoundly shaped Dr. King, the dreamer.

A hero to our children

As parents, we are our children's first and most influential teachers. It is not just what we provide them academically, but the environment we create for them. It is how we present ourselves: our values, beliefs and attitudes that shape and teach our children. Be a hero to your own child. You may be raising a future dreamer.

Arm your kids with knowledge

It has been twenty-six years since Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday was declared a national holiday. Since then, more than 100 countries around the world have begun celebrating the event in some form or another, according to the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

You too can celebrate Dr. King's legacy by learning about and teaching your kids how he affected American history. Have your children draw pictures to illustrate a timeline of Dr. King's life, as the children of Buckman Elementary in Portland, Oregon did. It's an engaging and effective way to spark young imaginations and to ensure that Dr. King's dream lives on.

LeapFrog recommends:

I Have a Dream
By Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., foreword by Coretta Scott King
Illustrated by 15 award-winning African-American artists
Scholastic (Age 4 and up)

My Dream of Martin Luther King
By Faith Ringgold
Dragonfly Books (Age 6–9)

Dear Dr. King: Letters from Today's Children to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Eds. Jan Colbert and Ann McMillan Harms
Photographs by Ernest C. Withers and Roy Cajero
Jump at the Sun Books (Age 9–12)

Oh, Freedom!: Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement with the People Who Made It Happen
By Casey King and Linda Barrett Osborne, foreword by Rosa Parks
Photographs by Joe Brooks
Knopf Books for Young Readers (Age 9–12)