How to Celebrate MLK Day with Kids in Chicago and Beyond


On Monday, January 15, 2024, we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most influential leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. As he dedicated his life to fighting against racism and left a legacy for future generations to come, even your youngest children can be inspired to make a difference in their community.

If you’re trying to decide how to celebrate MLK Day, 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 Service Day Celebration (Rolling Knolls, Elgin)
January 13, 2024 | 10:00am – 12:00pm
Celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with volunteer work.

MLK Jr. Day of Service (Glen Ellyn)
January 15, 2024 | 9:00am – 10:30am
The Glen Ellyn Park District is hosting a morning of volunteering at Ackerman Park to help clean up the area.

MLK Day of Service (Palos Heights)
January 15, 2024 | 9:00am – 11:30am
Pre-register to help with service work at Lake Katherine.

Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity Family Day (Chicago)
January 15, 2024 | 9:30am – 4:00pm
Join the creative and thought-provoking festivities at this annual event. Included with general admission to the museum.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Commemorative Day (Chicago History Museum) MUSEUM IS CLOSED ON MONDAY JANUARY 15 DUE TO EXTREME COLD.
January 15, 2024 | 10:00am – 3:00pm
Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King with music performances, craft activities, storytelling, and more.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration (Chicago Children’s Museum)
January 15, 2024 | 10:00am – 4:00pm
Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier is hosting special programming including story-telling and art.

MLK Day of Service (Chicago)
January 15, 2024 | 10:00am – 1:00pm
Join the Forest Preserve District of Cook County as they spend a day of service honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Drop-in: MLK National Day of Service Project (Darien)
January 15, 2024 | 11:00am – 6:00pm
Visit the Indian Prairie Public Library and help make fleece tie blankets.

MLK Day of Service (Schaumburg Township Library)
January 15, 2024 | 11:00am – 2:00pm
Create care kits with the Township of Schaumburg.

MLK Day Restoration (Barrington)
January 15, 2024 | 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Volunteer with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County as they volunteer at Crabtree Nature Center.

Honoring the Dream (Des Plaines Public Library)
January 15, 2024 | 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Visit Youth Services for activities, stories, and other ways to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

PlayLab PlayDate: MLK Jr. Day Storytime (Chicago)
January 17, 2024 | 11:00am – 12:00pm
Included in general admission, join the Chicago Public Library for a special program at the Field Museum.

2023 Events

If you’re still deciding how to celebrate MLK Day, we’re keeping an eye out to see if these 2023 events come back in 2024.

King Day Festival (DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago)
January 16, 2023 | 11:00am – 4:00pm
DuSable Museum’s festivities included 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 a list of books celebrating 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 2024.

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 โ€œEarth Is Not Our Homeโ€ and โ€œHave A Dreamโ€ 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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