Teach Kids about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights

A graphic with a cartoon image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the words "teach kids about Dr. King and civil rights"

Monday, January 15, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year. Kids are never too young to learn about civil rights and how to treat others with kindness and respect. Here are some resources for teaching kids about this important holiday.


In this segment from “Sesame Street,” Elmo, Abby Cadabby and their friends learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and dream. The characters work together to decorate a Peace Treaty showing how they can be part of Dr. King’s wish for a fair and kind world.


Here are three picture books written by civil rights leaders:

  • I Am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith. Ruby tells the story of how she became the first Black child to integrate a white elementary school in Louisiana in 1960, when she was only 6 years old.
  • That Is My Dream by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Daniel Miyares. Beautiful illustrations of a young Black boy’s dreams of peace, freedom, and joy go with Hughes’ beautiful poem “Dream Variation.”
The cover of the picture book "my Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." which includes an illustration of Dr. King and his son


  • Make a Peace Tree in your classroom, just like in “Sesame Street”! Have kids decorate paper leaves with hearts or pictures of themselves showing love and being kind to others.
  • Find ways for your children to spread kindness in your community. Little kids can decorate cards for people at a local senior center or shelter. Bigger kids can do simple volunteer work like collecting donations for a food pantry or petting cats at an animal shelter. Here’s a list from Highlights magazine with more ideas!