As we celebrate Black History Month and the lives and legacies of icons like Dr. Martin Luther King, we have a marvelous opportunity to share the stories of historic figures with young children in a way that is accessible, meaningful and lasting. That mechanism is called read alouds with children’s picture books.
When you’re standing in front of the book shelf at your local Barnes and Noble and you’re trying to decide on what book would be best to buy for your young learner I know it can feel overwhelming. I have heard so many stories from parents across my career. Some go chiefly for the illustrations. Some pick books based on their personal heroes like Jackie Robinson, or Michael Jordan. Others look for books that feature a particular theme their child has expressed interest in like the latest from Marvel’s Spiderman or My Little Pony.
It might interest you to know that there are ways to determine which books are most developmentally appropriate for your child and I would love to help you with that. For example, if you are looking for a great MLK or Black History Month book to add to your collection I highly recommend “I Have A Dream” which features Dr. King’s famous speech by this same name accompanied by the extraordinary images of illustrator Kadir Nelson. Young children ages 3-5 will be instantly drawn to this over-sized book filled with colorful and engaging images so powerful that they convey the message even without the text.
To enhance the experience beyond reading the story, ask simple questions to get the child thinking and focused as the story unfolds. Ask them to show you different images that are key to the story and our history. And finally have them listen with you to the actual voice of Dr. King on the CD recording that accompanies this book as a fabulous bonus. There is nothing like hearing the actual voice of this great figure to help your child gain a closer connection and understanding of the importance of the man we’ve come to know as the drum major for justice.
Reading aloud is very important for the development of young children, but it doesn’t have to be boring or drab for the parents/adults who take the time to facilitate the activity. Find ways to spice up the experience so that you can enjoy it too. Chances are that your child will enjoy the experience more if you are also having fun. If you need a little help coming up with ideas, be sure to subscribe to my blog and social media channels for tips you can explore with your child.
Happy Reading, Family!
Every Monday you can meet me right here and on TheWRITEaddiction where I contribute various tips and tricks for helping all you parents and early childhood educators succeed in preparing children to excel in lifelong learning. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel for plenty of free resources.