Every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the kids and I celebrate by reading some good books on the topics of civil rights, social justice, and racism. I always select library books that contain a lot of diversity and represent a wide range of peoples and cultures. However, on MLK Day, we really take time to talk about prejudice in the past and present and learn more about Martin Luther King Jr.
This year, we went to our local library [in our small town in southern Illinois] and checked out every single book they had on Dr. King and the civil rights movement – a whopping total of 5 books.
We read these books together [I summarized a few since my kids are only 7, 5, 4, and 2]. The picture book, My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris, is big and beautiful and a really nice way for kids to relate to Martin Luther King Jr.
We also watched an episode of Sesame Street about Martin Luther King Jr Day, in which all the Sesame Street characters contributed to a “peace tree” by choosing a way they promise to promote peace and equality all year long. I thought this was a great idea and [if I remember], I’m going to make a peace tree with my kids next year.
When I saw how few books our library has for kids about the civil rights movement and it’s leaders, I decided to purchase some new books to donate.
Public libraries are a source of free education for a community and if I want them to carry more books with diversity and social justice themes, I might as well start by supplying some myself. It’s a small thing to do, but hopefully these books will impact little readers in years to come.