How to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Kids


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made it his life’s work to implement meaningful change in the world around him. His courage, kindness, and unwavering determination are honored this year on Monday, January 17, 2022. We’ve gathered ideas of books, videos and art displays to help families learn more about this civil rights hero. Local organizations have also created activities and events for families to feel inspired to be change-makers in their own communities. No matter how you spend your day, we hope you will take time to talk to your children about the legacy that Rev. Dr. King left behind.

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. We’ve already reserved Let the Children March and If You Were a Kid During the Civil Rights Movement at our local library.

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 2022. We will be announcing details about our volunteer event very soon, so stay tuned!

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. Feeling overwhelmed? Give the National Education Association’s list of Martin Luther King Jr. resources a try!

Kid-Friendly Events Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Remembering King” Service (Elmhurst United Church of Christ)
January 16, 2022 | 10:00am – 11:00am
Join Rev. Robert E. Buckner II in-person as he presents on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s social justice principles and contributions to society today.

King Day: A Virtual Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday (National Civil Rights Museum)
January 17, 2022 | 8:00am – 6:00pm
This virtual presentation will feature Dr. King’s work, as well as explain the history of his national holiday.

School’s Out- Pop Portraiture (Park District of Oak Park)
January 17, 2022 | 8:00am – 3:00pm
While the Martin Luther King Jr. session is full, enrollment is available for the Rosa Parks and John Lewis sessions of this art programming offered by the Park District of Oak Park.

Forest Preserve District of Will County MLK Day of Service (Various Locations)
January 17, 2022 | 8:00am – 4:00pm
Make a difference in your community by taking part in litter cleanups and a resource management workday.

Dream of Peace and Wellness: Martin Luther King Jr. Day Virtual Events (DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago)
January 17, 2022 | 9:00am – 2:30pm
Online programming from the DuSable Museum of African American History.

Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Family Day
January 17, 2022 | 9:30am – 5:30pm
Join the creative and thought-provoking festivities at this annual event. Admission is free, but must be reserved in advance.

MLK Commemorative Day (Chicago History Museum)
January 17, 2022 | 10:30am – 3:30pm
Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King with music performances, craft activities, storytelling, and more.

MLK Day of Service (Sand Ridge Nature Center, South Holland)
January 17, 2022 | 10:00am – 2:00pm
Join the Forest Preserve District of Cook County as they spend a day of service honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

I Have A Dream Storytime (Wheaton Public Library, Virtual)
January 17, 2022 | 11:00am – 11:30am
Join Wheaton Public Library as they honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a special story time.

MLK Story Walk in Brookfield’s Ehlert Park
January 17 – 21, 2022 | 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Guests are invited to stop throughout the week, and to bring a “Brookfield Rocks” rock to add to the displays.

Check out our round-up of MLK Jr. day camps and things to do while school is out, too!

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