Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service will take place on January 19, 2015. This federal holiday, marking the birthday of Dr. King, is a chance for people all over the country to join together in honor of his legacy to serve their neighbors and community. “The MLK Day of Service is a way to transform Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems.” (Corporation of National and Community Service)

The Martin Luther King Day of Service is a great way to encourage children to connect with their community and make a difference. On this holiday, many organizations will be holding MLK Day of Service events open to children and family volunteers. Service projects offer participants a chance to build knowledge and civic skills. Additionally, serving others gives volunteers an opportunity to deepen their understanding of empathy and compassion.

If your family would like to learn more about planning a service project or find projects that need volunteers, try one of the following resources. The Corporation of National and Community Service is one organization that is leading the effort to encourage service and volunteerism in our country. Their website has ideas and information about service opportunities throughout the United States. Look at their Plan-Toolkits page to find materials on a variety of topics that can be used to plan your own service event.

Another organization that may be useful is Points of Light. In partnership with companies, non-profits and groups around the country, this organization encourages people to serve as volunteers. The Points of Light youth division, generationOn has a detailed website that includes ideas and inspiration for children and families interested in volunteering.

More detailed information on local opportunities can be found on the Jersey Cares website. Jersey Cares is an organization that partners with local non-profits to identify needs in New Jersey. Volunteers can search for projects by interest and location. Additionally, Jersey Cares will be organizing the 7th Annual Jersey Cares Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service over the holiday weekend. Individuals and organizations are invited to participate in one of the 40 service projects being held throughout the state.

The library system has several related resources that may be of interest. The following titles will provide information about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Grace Norwich

I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Grace Norwich
A brand-new biography series featuring some of the most important people from history and today. I helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I am only 34 when I give the "I Have a Dream" speech. I am Martin Luther King Jr. Learn all about this heroic man, whose accomplishments are truly inspiring, in the continuation of Scholastic's latest biography series: I AM. This book will feature illustrations throughout, a timeline, an introduction to the people you'll meet in the book, maps, sidebars, and a top ten list of important things to know about Martin Luther King Jr.


Free at last! : the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Angela Bull.
Free at Last! is a biography of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who encouraged nonviolent protest to fulfill his dream of an America where people would be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.

I've seen the promised land : the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Walter Dean Myers.
I've seen the promised land : the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Walter Dean Myers.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of the most celebrated figures of the twentieth century. A crusader for nonviolent social justice, he led African Americans in their demands for equality through peaceful protests during one of the most tumultuous times in recent history. Set against key moments in the civil rights movement, here is the story of the powerful, eloquent spiritual leader and his belief that nonviolence could be used to overcome racial discrimination. Walter Dean Myers's moving narrative and Leonard Jenkins's compelling paintings portray a vivid and striking image of the man who moved American society closer to the ideals of freedom and fairness. Dr. King's dream that all Americans would be judged by their individual actions and character is one we still cherish today.

What was your dream, Dr. King? : and other questions about Martin Luther King, Jr. by Mary Kay Carson

What was your dream, Dr. King? : and other questions about Martin Luther King, Jr. by Mary Kay Carson
An introduction to the example and achievements of the influential civil rights leader poses and answers key questions about his life and time, offering insight into such topics as segregation, the 1963 Civil Rights March, and the history and purpose of his famous speeches.<

If you would like to find out more about volunteering and serving others, you can try one of these titles:

Let’s Do It Together by Denise Jordan.
Simple text and pictures explain when, where, why, and how we can help.

Volunteering in Your School by Claire O’Neal.
A look at how volunteering in your school can improve the quality of education for everyone, as well as provide you with skills and values you cannot learn in class.


Volunteering to Help in Your Neighborhood by Claudia Isler.
Volunteering to Help in Your Neighborhood by Claudia Isler.
In compelling, reader-friendly language, this series describes the benefits of volunteering through community service-learning programs (a curriculum requirement in many middle schools and high schools). Students will learn how people from all walks of life can lend a helping hand while learning invaluable lessons in citizenship, a variety of academic subjects, and practical skills.

Volunteering to Help Seniors by Patrick Newell.

This series describes the benefits of volunteering through community service-learning programs. Students will learn how people from all walks of life can lend a helping hand while learning invaluable lessons in citizenship, a variety of academic subjects, and practical skills.


Volunteering : the ultimate teen guide by Kathlyn Gay
Volunteering : the ultimate teen guide by Kathlyn Gay
An action guide for teens on how to volunteer their time and skills for working with the physically and mentally challenged, working with the elderly, tutoring elementary school children, doing fundraisers, restoring cemeteries and cleaning up vacant properties, and other activities. Also a great source for teachers, parents, civic leaders, and others who work with teens.

Finally, children can also learn about helping others through stories. Here is a list that might spark some interest in your child.

Squirrel's New Year's Resolution by Pat Miller.
Squirrel cannot think of a New Year's resolution until she realizes that by helping her friends, she has made one after all.

The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern.
The Lady in the Box by Ann McGovern.
When Lizzie and Ben discover a homeless lady living in their neighborhood, they must reconcile their desire to help her with their mother's admonition not to talk to strangers.

The Empty Room by Jon Mikkelsen.
When he and his family help finish a Habitat for Humanity house, Connor expects to be bored, but when another boy is assigned to help him paint a bedroom, the results are surprising.



Helping Others by Elizabeth Raum.
This book features the stories of young people from around the world who have used their talents and skills to help others in their local communities and in the wider world. Their stories will inspire readers to make a difference in their own way.

The Doggy Dung Disaster & Other True Stories by Garth Sundem.
The Doggy Dung Disaster & Other True Stories by Garth Sundem.
Inspire kids and teens with this book of profiles of young people from across the globe who have overcome adversity to achieve great things and impact their world. What makes these kids so special? Twelve-year-old Haruka invents an environmentally friendly way to scoop dog poop. Fifteen-year-old Malika fights against segregation in her Alabama town. Ten-year-old Jean-Dominic wins a battle against pesticides--and the cancer the pesticides caused in his body. Thirteen-year-old Bethany loses her arm to a shark while surfing but lives to get back on her board. In all, The Doggy Dung Disaster profiles 30 extraordinary young people who are real-life heroes.


The summer I saved the world …in 65 days by Michele Weber Hurwitz
Inspired by her late grandmother, 13-year-old Nina spends a summer secretly doing good deeds for her neighbors and enjoying the changes she brings about, even as she is dealing with changing friendships and family issues.

Briana C.

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