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MLK Day - What to tell little kids?

Posted by on Jan. 2, 2014 at 12:16 PM
  • 8 Replies

I grew up in the North and went to public school.  Any history relating to the South seemed so far away and so long ago.  My parents never taught me much about people being "different", which ended up being a good thing.  I never learned to "hate" people for being "different". 

I now live in the South and have for many years.  Things are VERY different here from where I grew up.

Long story short, I believe that hate towards other people is mostly learned.

My DD is 4. She has no clue that people are "different".  She doesn't hear words like blonde/brunette, thin/fat, tall/short in terms of people.  She has no clue and wouldn't notice if peole are white, black, pink or purple.  She sees colors as just that...colors. 

DH & I were discussing upcoming Holidays and what we want to teach her.  We agree that she's too young to hear about things like slavery / segregation etc and we're not sure that we want indtroduce the idea of different colors of skin, etc.

Obviously, at some point we will have to discuss it but I was thinking that for now, we might tell her about MLK and how he had a dream that people would be nice to each other and treat each other with respect and fairness. Maybe using examples of how she can be nice to her little brother, etc.

I thought it would also be nice to share a few facts about MLK's life, general facts. questions are:

What have you told your young kids about MLK? Do you know of any good books that touch on who he was that might fit our needs?

by on Jan. 2, 2014 at 12:16 PM
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Replies (1-8):
by on Jan. 2, 2014 at 12:20 PM
We haven't done anything related to mlk day here.
by Group Admin on Jan. 2, 2014 at 1:14 PM

How about Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rapapport?  It's a picture book/ biography.  My kids liked it but they do know about the different colors, I'm not sure if I remember whether that was a big deal or not in the book.

by Jinx on Jan. 2, 2014 at 2:08 PM

My kids are all older and have read about MLK and know about segregatoin and slavery and other issues. MLK day is just a day off to us. I don't commemorate him or anything on that day. 

by on Jan. 2, 2014 at 2:49 PM

 We have not discussed him but we probably will this your only because their book club is not meeting that day becaue it is MLK Day & they will want to know why! I will probably tell them the very basics about him because they are only 8 & 10.

by on Jan. 3, 2014 at 11:54 PM
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I had this same struggle as we have all colors in our family, and I really worried that it would add a burden to my babies that was not there yet.. I think if they were in PS it would be different, because "mama bear" wouldn't always be there to protect them, but since they are a little sheltered from that reality, I kept it that way longer. :)

My son is 7.5 now and we just started touching on some of these subjects, starting with the history of the Native Americans and the way they were treated. Then I talked to him a little about how these same people who had killed/hurt the Native Americans had enslaved Africans..

I think what you are doing is perfect for a four year old though! I like your idea of saying he wanted all people to treat each other nicely.. Perhaps just having some books showing multicultural children all together (I could have sworn I had read a "We are the World" book, based off the song, but couldn't find it in a search!) or exploring different cultures in a fun way! :)
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by on Jan. 4, 2014 at 6:55 AM

Me personally, I feel that MLK, Rosa Parks and all the sit ins and protests are very important to learn at a young age. 

I think you should give a basic out line of events starting with Rosa. 

by on Jan. 4, 2014 at 8:21 AM
I would just tell them. Tell what the day is about and just answer any questions she has. Maybe start with some books from the library
by on Jan. 4, 2014 at 8:33 AM
Tell them the truth in an age appropriate way tell them that people use to be mean to each other and it was wrong and tell them how he helped stand up for others make it a anti- bully thing and how they need to stand up for others
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