MAKE A DIFFERENCE

MLK Read for Peace

MLK Read for Peace is a statewide service project that places college students, community volunteers, and AmeriCorps national service members in kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms to read age-appropriate books to students about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After listening to a book read aloud, students then complete an activity that asks them to reflect on how they can promote peace and equality in their own lives.

“I Have a Dream” Drawings

A free-form art activity where students will draw their dream for a better world. The activity will begin with a short introduction to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, informing students that MLK dreamed of a better world where all people got along and were treated as equals.

campus compact MLK read for peace

Peace Poems

A structured writing activity where students will write a poem about what peace means to them. They will be given a poem worksheet to use where they insert their own words to finish phrases such as “Peace is like a _________.” Students may also choose to write a free-form poem if they wish.

Why take the time?

The impact of Dr. King’s work and life on American history is often not a required part of elementary school curricula. Although many schools enjoy a long weekend in observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day every January, some students may not understand the significance of this day.

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PARTICIPATE

Participate in a nationally recognized Day of Service! Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a National Day of Service in 1994 to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a Beloved Community.

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SERVE OTHERS

Dr. King recognized the power of service. He famously said, “Everyone can be great because everybody can serve.” Observing the holiday through service is a way to begin each year with a commitment to making your community a better place.

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CHANGE YOUR WORLD

Join community leaders such as the Montana Lieutenant Governor and local mayors and city council members in sharing your time with students and teachers.

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ROOTED IN PEACE

MLK Read for Peace gives students an opportunity to learn about and engage with Dr. King’s message of peace and equality. Through discussion and art, students are encouraged to think about Dr. King’s work and what we can do individually and collectively to advance his dream.

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SPARK CREATIVITY

Spark creativity and help students translate their vision for a peaceful and equitable world into words or images! We encourage student artwork and poems to be displayed publicly in a local library or business during Black History Month.

What We Do

MLK Read for Peace provides students with information about Dr. King and simple activities they can complete in class or at home over the weekend.
In 2019, 12 Montana communities participated in Read for Peace and we engaged over 4,200 students statewide!

Coordinating an MLK Read for Peace event in your community

It is best to begin coordinating an MLK Read for Peace project as early as possible. Use the following timeline as a guide for beginning different stages of the planning process.

  • Pick a date to host MLK Read for Peace:

    We recommend you host your MLK Read for Peace the Friday before the three-day MLK weekend. This makes the information more relevant to students and gives them extra time to work on their activity.

  • Select a school or district in your community to host the event:

    Identify one or more elementary schools in your community that may be interested in the event. Contact the principals with your idea. They will be able to tell you any screening requirements for volunteers in the district, and they can also share information about the event with teachers. For your first year, try to keep the number of schools relatively small. In Missoula’s first year, only 25 volunteers served in five schools, but they reached more than 500 students.

  • Identify a community forum where you can display the student activities:

    We suggest contacting local organizations and businesses to highlight the work of your community’s young people. Good options may include a downtown display sponsored by your Chamber of Commerce or an art display at the mall or public library.

  • Contact teachers/schools to sign up classrooms for your event (November/early December):

    Reach out to local school administrators or contacts for guidance on how best to reach K-5th grade teachers. Use provided template to collect the following information:

    • School name (if you are hosting the event at multiple schools)
    • Teacher’s name and email
    • Grade
    • Number of students in the classroom (for activities and reporting)
    • Time the teacher would like the volunteer to visit (this event usually lasts 45-60 minutes, depending on students’ questions)
    • Whether or not the teacher would like to combine classrooms with another teacher for the event. If yes, be sure to find out who the other teacher is and how many students are in their class.

  • Select or order books for volunteers:

    Check with the school libraries for recommendations on age-appropriate books about Dr. King. As teachers sign their classrooms up for the event, you will be able to determine how many books you need at each school. MTCC has donated MLK books to local school libraries for the past several years, so they might have them available.

  • Select or design the activities for your event:

    The activities for your event should help students reflect on the ideas of peace and equality. These are common themes of books about Dr. King’s life and work. Racial discrimination and the civil rights movement are too complex for a one-day event, so MTCC staff have developed pre- and post-visit curricula to expand the learning opportunity for students. These curricula will be updated soon. Previous events have included these activities: a coloring activity, a drawing, and a poem. The drawing activity is typically used with younger students, and the poem is used with older (3rd-5th grade) students. These are included in the MTCC MLK Read for Peace Toolkit.

  • Recruit and schedule volunteers:

    Work with local volunteer organizations to find experienced, committed volunteers for your event. If available, reach out to local colleges or universities for student volunteers. Examples of college student volunteers are local athletic teams, student senate members, clubs, education students, and volunteer organizations. This provides a tremendous opportunity for local students to give back to their community by way of Read for Peace. Consider recruiting AmeriCorps members, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers, and Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers. Afterschool programs, fraternities, and sororities are also great resources for volunteer recruitment. Invite your local representatives such as the mayor and city and county council members as well to volunteer. These VIPs help to highlight national service in your community, but also help with earned media exposure.

    Because AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers are required to participate in an MLK Day of Service event, they generally constitute the majority of MLK Read for Peace volunteers. Teachers may also have regular classroom volunteers who would like to work with that particular class. When you begin recruitment, let teachers know they can pass the information on to any parent or community volunteers they know. Consider using online tools like SignUpGenius when recruiting and scheduling volunteers. Google Sheets will allow you to create a spreadsheet with available classrooms and times that volunteers can use to sign up. Also remember that some school districts may require volunteers to undergo further registration and/or screening.

  • Deliver books, activities and instructions to schools:

    Work with the school secretaries to set up a system where your volunteers can check in at the front desk of the school on the day of the event and pick up their book, instructions, and activities. Use the classroom sizes you collected from teachers to ensure you have enough activity sheets. Remember, if more than one volunteer will use the same book, let the secretaries know and make sure to leave instructions for each individual volunteer that include the name of their book. If you will borrow books from the school library, ask the librarians to have the books available at the front desk for volunteers the day before the event.

  • Host your event:

    Select one or two people to be in charge of activities on the day of the event. Volunteers may not show up, books may not be returned to the front desk for the next class, and a class may decide to join another at the last minute. Designating one or two point people to handle these problems will help the event run smoother and keep things moving. A few members of your organization may volunteer to be back-up readers, books can be quickly tracked down if you have the contact information for volunteers and teachers, and extra copies of activities can be made easily at the schools. With good preparation, your MLK Read for Peace event should go off without a hitch.

  • Reporting:

    Part of participation in Read for Peace includes reporting the impact of your local project. This helps us to be able to share your good work and continue to receive funding in the future. Designate an individual to serve as the reporter for your local project.

  • Display student activities:

    Once you have collected and displayed students’ activities, be sure to spread the word. You may have chosen to send a press release about your event to local media. It is important to include information about the activity display in any press release. This way the public can experience the event as well and see the wonderful work of your community’s youth.

Volunteer During Read For Peace

If you are unable to plan a Read for Peace event on your own, we welcome community volunteers.

Sign Up To Volunteer in Missoula

Plan Your Own Read For Peace Event

Use this guidance to plan and prepare your own Read for Peace event. Then consider using the pre- and post-visit curricula below to continue the conversation.

Read For Peace Guidance

Read for Peace Curricula

Use these materials to prepare and deliver your Read for Peace event!

Kindergarten          1st & 2nd Grade          3rd & 4th Grade          5th Grade

Pre-Visit Curriculum

These resources can be shared with educators in advance of your Read for Peace event to help their students prepare.

Kindergarten

1st & 2nd Grade

3rd & 4th Grade

5th Grade

Post-Visit Curriculum

These resources can be shared with educators to keep the conversation going even after your Read for Peace event ends.

Kindergarten

1st & 2nd Grade

3rd & 4th Grade

5th Grade

Press Release Tips

Let the media know about your event! You can send a press release a couple weeks before you plan to host your MLK Read for Peace event. Here are some things to keep in mind and include in your release:

Keep it short and concise. Press releases should fit on one page and have short paragraphs.

Don’t send it too soon. Your event is most likely to pop up on the media radar if you send your release about two weeks before the event. You can send a follow-up copy of the release the week of the event as well.

Pack the release with details. Include information about which schools are participating, how many classrooms, the total count of students, and the total number of volunteers involved. Ask someone in your organization to share a quick, compelling quote about the importance and impact of this event.

Remember to include Montana Campus Compact, ServeMontana, AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps Seniors in the press release as appropriate.

Really spread the word. Aside from traditional newspaper and TV station media, send your release to local radio stations, public broadcasting networks, independent and Internet media, and even university media.

Connect & Share on Social Media with the hashtag #MLKDay

Register Your Event

To help recruit additional volunteers in your community, register your event on JustServe!

Montana Campus Compact’s project listing for MLK Read for Peace in Missoula is available here.

AmeriCorps Senior Leader Jonathan Carter (carter@mtcompact.org) has administrative privileges for Montana Campus Compact and is able to post projects across Montana. Send details about your event to Jonathan, and he is happy to share your project with potential volunteers on JustServe. Be sure to include #MLK in the title of the project to make it discoverable through the AmeriCorps Volunteer Search.

Statewide Read for Peace Activities

MLK Read for Peace is a required activity for all MTCC AmeriCorps and VISTA members. However, you are encouraged to participate in other service projects related to MLK Day. If you are curious about events that will occur in your area, we recommend exploring the listings here or contacting your local MTCC AmeriCorps member(s).

      • Bozeman
      • Butte
      • Hamilton
      • Havre
      • Flathead Nation (Polson)
      • Fort Peck Nation (Poplar)
      • Miles City
      • Park County
      • and more…