Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – A Special Day and a Special Man to Honor

Posted on January 16, 2017 by Leslie Ann Daniels

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and it’s a perfect time to explore and discuss the qualities and characteristics of a good leader. It is also a good time to delve into history and focus on what it takes to make a difference. If you are interested in sharing the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. to your children, A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr. by David Adler is a good book for elementary level students. The Reading Rockets website also offers a wide variety of books for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I was delighted to find one of my favorite books on the list: Miss Rumphius, which is beautifully written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. It easily relates a young child to the dreams and legacies that each one of us can offer.
The quality of good citizenship and leadership is exemplified throughout Oak Meadow’s social studies lessons. In first grade, stories of Abraham Lincoln, John Chapman, Clara Barton, and George Washington are presented. The second grade curriculum provides specific lessons that focus on individuals who made a difference in fairness and equality, such as Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the third grade curriculum, a lesson block on civics offers awareness towards the development of laws, the importance of governing for protection, and the characteristics of a good leader. The list goes on and on, for the topic of civics and quality leadership is displayed throughout every level of the Oak Meadow coursework.
In the “Let’s Grow Leaders” website, Karin Hurt wrote an inspiring article on “Children’s Books on Leadership– Questions to Inspire Young Thinking.” It includes many suggestions for books that are categorized by the various qualities of leadership.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is dedicated to celebration and remembrance. It is an excellent day to educate and pay tribute to his dreams and visions of a world that embraces the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, and humility. It is also a day to offer service and volunteer to help the less fortunate.
Calvin Lawrence Jr. (Coordinating Producer at wrote an excerpt on “5 Ways to Honor the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.” He lists them as:
Give Something
Learn Something
Teach Something
Commit to Something
Dream Something
What way do you and your family honor this special day? Share one of your dreams of service. It could be an offering to your family, to your community, to the environment, or to the world as a whole. Encourage your children to think about their own dreams or visions of helping something or someone. Encourage them to complete the sentence… “My dream for the world is…” Then, draw or paint a picture of this vision. Oak Meadow teacher/blog writer Lesley Arnold also composed a “Dear Martin” post in the Oak Meadow blogsite that encourages students to write a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. This could be another inspirational activity you could offer to your children.
Martin Luther King, Jr. strove to achieve these goals as often as he could. These honorable actions are something we can also strive to do every day of our lives, not just on this one particular day of recognition for such a noble man.