Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and thanks to my new teaching profession, I am lucky enough to have the day off. My daughter's preschool is open today however, because of the current skyrocketing number of cases of covid-19, I prefer to keep her home with me whenever possible.
With the way our nation and the entire world is today, I believe it is extremely important to begin to teach our future generations about the history of important Black leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. at an early age. It is crucial to begin to have conversations with our children on the topic of diversity and instill in them the morals, values, and beliefs that we want to cultivate in them.
I had never taught my daughter about the reason behind this special holiday because I always thought she was too young to understand. However, now that she is 3 years old, I know that there are many things that her "oh too smart" little mind and heart can see as well as understand. One night, as I was reading the book "Not Quite Snow White" by Ashley Franklin to her, I noticed her very specific questions and reactions to what was going on in the story. It quickly became one of her favorite books to pick for me to read to her at bedtime and with each reading our discussion of the events within the story became much more meaningful.
I could tell she was really comprehending the powerful message embedded in the story and that was when I knew she was ready to learn more.
Learning About an Black Activist Leader
Being that Celine isn't going to be in school today, I feel as though it is my responsibility to make an effort to teach her about why this day is so important in our country. Yesterday, we took a trip to our local Barnes and Noble bookstore to find some books for today's lesson. Although I found many great books, it was a little difficult to choose books that were appropriate for her age. I was looking for a book that would give her just enough facts without too many words, and that would include some fun pictures to keep her engaged. I ended up choosing the "My Little Golden Book About Martin Luther King, Jr". Although this book is a little advanced for her age, I know it is a book that we can continue to read over and over again for the next couple of years and she won't outgrow it by the time she's in kindergarten.
Here are some other great picture books on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that are excellent for children in this age group. (Click on the image to be directed to my amazon storefront where you can purchase these books online.)
Books all About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For Preschoolers/Toddlers
I Am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer
My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King III
My Little Golden Book About Martin Luther King Jr. by Bonnie Bader
I Am Brave A Little Book About Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer
After reading and discussing the book, we are going to work on two fun activity sheets that I was able to find on www.thekindergartenconnection.com. One of the worksheets include important vocabulary words such as peace, love, equality, speech, and friendship along with pictures which we can discuss the meaning of each together.
I had picked up a set of "Multicultural Crayons" by Crayola for Celine a while ago but, I was excited to see that on our trip shopping this weekend, Target also had a set in there Bullseye section. Check out Target's "Colors of The World Crayons" for just $1! We used all of the different sets of crayons and it helped to enforce the topic of diversity that we were discussing as we worked on the activity sheets.
Learning About Diversity
In my opinion, I believe it will be more effective for me to approach this topic with my daughter at her age and level of understanding, through the use of things that are surrounding her first.
I plan to begin the discussion by showing her the diversity within our own family. I am fully aware that she can already recognize and see differences in skin colors and complexion because of her responses to previous books we have read. She fully understands that even I, being her mother do not share the same skin color as her or her father. Showing her the differences within our family going all the way up to her great grandparents allows her to have a deeper understanding of how we can all come from the same place, yet, look so vastly different on the outside. She will learn how those exterior differences do not change the love or connection that we share for one another.
Another way I can continue to discuss this is by using her favorite shows and movies. In the show, "Fancy Nancy" for example, Nancy's best friend Bree is Black. I will use her dolls of Nancy and Bree to show her that their cultural differences does not stop them from being such great friends or treating each other with respect.
Two new books that we picked up yesterday from the bookstore which we will be reading for this lesson are, "Sulwe" by Lupita Nyong'o and "Curls" by Ruth Forman. After reading these books, it is important to address the fact that there will always be people who are not going to treat others who look different from them, nicely and why that is never okay. Other books shown in the image below we have already read. Some of which, we already own and have them on her bookshelf. All of those books are excellent to use when teaching children about diversity and equality. (Click on the image to be directed to my amazon storefront where you can purchase these books online.)
Books All About Diversity for Preschoolers/Toddlers
All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont
Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin
Curls by Ruth Forman
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o
Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, I was raised in an environment where I was always surrounded by a diverse group of people. To be completely honest, as I think back, it was very rare to find other Dominicans like myself and my family within my community or school. The schools in our neighborhood probably had roughly 10 Dominican students including myself and my sisters. The community where my sisters and I grew up in, was a melting pot of Hispanics, Asians, Blacks, Jews, and Indians. I am so grateful that I had that upbringing where I was able to learn about so many different cultures that exist through all of the profound friendships I made. Being surrounded by a group of so many different types of people, helped me to not be blind to the different races that exist in our society. I learned not only to be accepting of diversity but, l learned to love and appreciate it. Thus, instilling in me an intolerance to racial injustice and inequality.
By making sure that my daughter is also exposed to diversity, I can ensure her love and appreciation for people of all backgrounds...
...Sew This is Life!
Here are a couple of my favorite quotes by powerful activist and leaders in social and human equality. (Images from www.goodhousekeeping.com)
*Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases on the books listed at no additional cost to you. However, all opinions and ideas are based solely on my own experiences with the books.