February is not only Black History Month, but has also been deemed National Gun Control Month. What better way to honor these two events, then by focusing on a famous Black Figure whose specialty was non-violent resistance?
Of course, that would be none other than Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, whose famous words were “words not guns”. Although Martin Luther King Day is behind us, his words and legacy live on, as we think about ways to model positive behavior for the children in our care. It is a difficult concept to teach, Dr. Kings, heritage to young children without putting the fear of guns into play, there are several books to recommend a gentle way of explaining why guns are a violent means of resolution while words are more powerful.
Gun control has become the “hot topic” ever since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, but talking about this tragedy with children, is such a precarious notion, We certainly do not want our children to fear going to school, but we also want them to understand the importance of gun safety.
Teaching and understanding Dr. Kings; history, traditions, and background offer a non-threatening understanding of why people should use their words, and not guns. As an Early Childhood Educator, Writer, and collector of children’s literature, I highly recommend these three books, which are available at your local Library and Bookstore(or can be ordered through amazon.com); Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier, which gives a child friendly synopsis of Dr. King’s life and legacy, I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King Jr., and Illustrated by Kadir Nelson, which is the actual speech, and beautifully illustrated to enchant a captive audience, and My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. by Christine King Farris, and Illustrated by Chris Soentpiet.
These books offer an important Lesson, which focuses on why guns are dangerous, and offers an alternative solution to gun violence, as opposed to just the pat answer that guns kill and therefore are bad. As adults and Educators we want to provide other options to violence as a resolution, and model positive behaviors, and open dialogue even with our youngest learners.
These children’s books, offer that opportunity to not only teach the lessons, but also to honor one of our most heroic African American Historic Figure, that truly changed the course of history by using non-violent resistance.
For more information on how to honer the lessons of Dr. King, check-out these web-sites;