MLK Read For Peace

MLK Read for Peace is a service project that places volunteers in kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms to read students age-appropriate books and share about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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.

Peace Poems

A structured writing activity where students will write a poem about what peace is 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 _________”, but may 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 curriculum. Although some schools enjoy a long weekend in observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every January, they may not understand the significance of this day.



Participate in a nationally recognized Day of Service! In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service, intended 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.”



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.



Join community leaders such as Lieutenant Governors, Mayors, and City Council members in sharing your time with local students and teachers.



MLK Read for Peace provides students a chance to learn about and engage in 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 as individuals and collectively can do to advance his dream.



Spark creativity and help students put their vision for a peaceful and equitable world into words or images! Student artwork and poems will be displayed publicly in Missoula libraries and downtown businesses during the month of February.

What We Do

MLK Read for Peace provides students with information about Dr. King and simple activities they can complete over the weekend, which are then displayed in a prominent community location. In 2019, 12 Montana communities participated in Read for Peace and we reached 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. {NOTE: Due to COVID-19, we have a virtual version of Read for Peace available.}

  • 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 who 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 get information about the event to 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 recommend contacting local organizations and businesses to highlight the work of your community’s young people. In Missoula, the activities are displayed at the main public library branch for the whole of February, which is Black History Month. Other options may include a downtown display sponsored by your Chamber of Commerce or an art display at the mall.

  • 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 e-mail
    • Grade
    • Number of students in the classroom (for activities and reporting)
    • Time the teacher would like the volunteer to come (The event takes 45 to 60 minutes, depending on student 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 the MLK books to the school library for the last several years, so they should 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 developed Pre, post and day of curriculum to expand the learning opportunity for students. This curriculum will be update in December. Previous events included these activities: a coloring activity, a drawing, and a poem. The drawing activity is typically used in younger classrooms students, and the poem is used with older (3-5th 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, Senior Corps, Big Brothers Big Sisters, afterschool programs, fraternities and sororities are great resources for volunteer recruitment. Invite your local representatives such as the Mayor, City and County Council members as well to volunteer. These VIP’s help to highlight National Service in your communities, but also help with earned media exposure.

    Because AmeriCorps and Senior Corps 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 when recruiting and scheduling volunteers. Google Docs will allow you to create a spreadsheet with available classrooms and times that volunteers can easily enter their name into. 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 activities. 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 includes 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 your 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 not able to plan a Read For Peace event on your own, you can always volunteer as a classroom reader.

Sign Up To Volunteer

Plan Your Own Read For Peace Event

Use this guidance to plan and prepare your Read For Peace event. Then consider using the additional pre/post curriculum below to expand the message beyond a single day.

Read For Peace Guidance

Read for Peace Curriculum

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 in order to help the class prepare.


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 wraps up.


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. 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. Find a good quote. See if someone in your organization can work up a quick, compelling quote about the importance and impact of this event.

Remember to include Montana Campus Compact, Serve Montana, AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, SeniorCorps in the press release.

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

Click here to register your event.
1. Scroll down to below FREE LESSON PLANS
2. Click Register Your MLK Day Event (middle blue diamond)
3. Click to continue to new site
4. This takes you to All for Good: A Service of Points of Light site:

a. Create an Account (unless your previous Leader left account information)
b. Click One Time Event
c. Impact Areas: Awareness, Kindness, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
d. Project Title: MLK Day Read for Peace (or other title noting MLK Day)
e. Complete registration using your events information—using your zip code will help volunteers find your opportunities.

State Wide Read For Peace Activities

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 be occurring in your area, we suggest that you check the listings here or contact your local MTCC AmeriCorps members coordinating MLK Read for Peace events in communities across the state by clicking the link below. 

      • Anaconda
      • Butte
      • Blackfeet Nation (Browning)
      • Flathead Nation
      • Fort Peck Nation (Poplar)
      • Glendive
      • Helena
      • and more…