8 Ways to Celebrate MLK Day With Kids

Updated on January 3, 2023.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January to honor the late civil rights leader’s birthday. Here are ways your family can celebrate Dr. King’s legacy of peace, service and equality right at home.

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1. Read a children’s book about MLK and the Civil Rights Movement.

Scholastic recommends these Picture Books, Early Readers, and Books for Ages 10 and Up about the life and work of Dr. King. You can check most of them out from your local library. (Note: Many libraries are offering curbside pick-up during COVID-19.)

2. Read about diversity, equity and inclusion.

You can honor Dr. King’s legacy by choosing children’s books about anti-racism, social justice and more. For help finding the best titles, check out our multicultural media resources.

3. Talk about racial inequality and social justice with your child.

Research shows that talking with children about these topics has a lasting positive impact on a child’s development. Connecticut Children’s developmental pediatrician has tips for parents, broken down by your child’s age.

4. Talk about these 7 DEI topics with your child and welcome the challenge.

You may have heard of these terms: stereotypes, unconscious bias, gender bias, microaggressions, privilege, ageism and ableism. But what do they mean and how can we recognize these behaviors in ourselves and others? Here are age-appropriate ways to tackle conversations around each of these topics. 

5. Watch a documentary or movie about social justice.

Plan a special screening for MLK Day. Commonsensemedia.org is  a trusted resource for helping parents navigate media choices. You can search lists by age, and select categories like movies about activism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. statue in Washington, D.C.

6. Watch or listen to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches.

This is an inspiring activity for older kids and teens. The “I Have a Dream” speech is about 17 minutes long; you can listen (and read along) here, or watch on YouTube along with some of Dr. King’s other famous speeches. Follow up with a discussion about what Dr. King’s message means to your child and you.

7. If you have younger kids, make a “peace” craft.

Use art and creativity to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy of peace and love. Draw and color peace signs to hang in your window, paint a dove using your child’s hand print, or create a heart garland to drape over the front door.

8.Volunteer with your child on MLK Day.

Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also designated as a national day of service? While volunteer options are somewhat limited due to COVID-19, you can still use this day to call neighbors and family members who are isolated; shovel elderly neighbors’ walkways; organize a food donation drive; or work with your child to come up with another safe, socially distanced way to give back to the community.

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