How to Celebrate MLK Day with Kids in Chicago and Beyond


On Monday, January 16, 2023, we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the key leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. As he dedicated his life to fighting against racism and influenced future generations to come, even your youngest children can be inspired to make a difference in their community. We’ve gathered ways for families to honor his life and work with in-home activities, volunteer opportunities, and local events.

A Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at the Chicago History Museum.

How to Celebrate MLK Day: Martin Luther King Jr. Day Events

MLK Jr. Day of Service (Glen Ellyn)
January 16, 2023 | 9:30am – 11:30am
The Glen Ellyn Park District is hosting a morning of volunteering at Ackerman Park to help clean up the area.

Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Family Day (Chicago)
January 16, 2023 | 9:30am – 4:00pm
Join the creative and thought-provoking festivities at this annual event. Included with general admission to the museum.

MLK Day of Service (Various Locations)
January 16, 2023 | 10:00am – 12:00pm
Join the Forest Preserve District of Cook County as they spend a day of service honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK Service Day Celebration (Rolling Knolls, Elgin)
January 14, 2023 | 10:00am – 1:00pm
Celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with volunteer work.

MLK Art Studio and Story Lounge (Chicago Children’s Museum)
January 16, 2023 | 10:00am – 5:00pm
Chicago Children’s Museum is hosting special programming with visiting artist, Derek Moore, as well as in the story lounge.

MLK Commemorative Day (Chicago History Museum)
January 16, 2023 | 10:30am – 3:30pm
Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King with music performances, craft activities, storytelling, and more.

King Day Festival (DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago)
January 16, 2023 | 11:00am – 4:00pm
Returning in-person this year, DuSable Museum’s festivities include storytime, film screenings, activities and much more.

Ways to Talk to Your Children about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Read about his influence: Scholastic has compiled lists of Picture Books, Early Readers, and Books for Ages 10 and Up all about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. You can add a few to your reservation list at your local library before the big day, or talk to the children’s librarian about books they recommend.

Discuss your own dreams: I always think that children never get enough credit for their ideas. The state of the world the last two years has many feeling defeated and discouraged; talking to your children about their hopes and dreams, both big and small, will be a meaningful catalyst for important family discussions.

Volunteer together: Dr. King dedicated his life to serving others. Use our list of Local Volunteer Opportunities to find a way for your family to make an impact on your community in 2023.

Visit outdoor art: Families can find beautiful works of art created outdoors throughout Chicago. The Martin Luther King Jr. Living Memorial is located at Marquette Park in Chicago. Beautiful murals titled “Earth Is Not Our Home” and “Have A Dream” can be found on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and 40th Street in Chicago.

Use online resources: The internet is full of amazing resources for families to learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. From PBS Kids’ Martin Luther King Jr. Day to National Geographic KIDS’s Hero for All: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there are endless opportunities for learning. For more ideas for all ages, check out the National Education Association’s list of Martin Luther King Jr. resources.

Check out our events calendar for other activities to do on Monday, too.

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