Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. ~ Happy Birthday!

On Monday we had a very small group for the holiday.  I spent the morning circle time talking to them about Martin Luther King and his dream/wish for everybody to get along and be friendly.  I explained to them that when he was alive there were a lot of mean things happening in our world. People were being mean to other people, they wouldn't let some people eat in their restaurants or sit in certain seats on the bus.  We read two books.  One book is a silly book about how everybody is different and thats OKAY! The other book that we read is a little heavier. Its about a town that is divided by a fence. Both groups of children have been told by their parents not to play on the other side of the fence.  Two little girls (on the right side of picture below) decide that nobody said they couldn't sit ON the fence. They spend the whole summer up there becoming friends. The kids I discussed both books and how we would feel if it was us.

Its Okay  To Be Different
The interesting part of this whole lesson, which I come across time and time again, is the lack of attention to skin color.  I don't address it, unless the children address it first. They never do.  They don't notice that MLK is brown or that the two kids in the story are different because their skin is different colors. In fact during those rare times that we have been fortunate enough to have racial diversity in our classroom, they haven't noticed it then either.  I choose to leave this piece of the lesson out, because frankly it doesn't even occur to them.  Someday it will and someday they can learn all the sad details of MLK and the era that he represents, but for now we can just celebrate our differences.

Now let me tell you another interesting little fact about the book "The Other Side" with the fence. I was very fortunate to meet the author Jacqueline Woodson and hear her speak about her different books.  As an African American woman she wrote this story, NOT with the intention of it taking place anywhere but the present.  However, the illustrator (E.B. Lewis) chose to illustrate the book with the style of the 1950's/60's. Ms. Woodson expressed strongly how this is not an issue of the past and could easily  have been illustrated in the present.  She was a very powerful speaker and inspiring woman and I was so happy to share this book with the children!

 "Someday somebody's going to come along and knock this old fence down," Annie said. 
 And I nodded. "Yeah," I said. "Someday."

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize you were open on Monday. I had it marked on my calendar that you were closed.OOPS!