Sharing Martin Luther King Jr. with Kids

Martin Luther Ling Jr. | Illustration by Brad Sneed

Martin Luther King Jr. | Illustration by Brad Sneed

Growing up on the plains in a mostly white neighborhood in a mostly white town in a mostly white state, I remember my 3rd grade teacher showing films about Martin Luther King Jr. and how his nonviolent protests shaped American history. As a parent, though, I’ve often sometimes wondered how to best to share Martin Luther King Jr. with my own young children. I’ve wondered: “How young is too young?” or “Will sharing the shameful side of American history hurt my kids?”

But like most important topics, we’ve resolved to err on the side of sharing. We know that if we’re not having lots of small-but-important conversations with our kids about topics that matter, their friends will. So over the past few years, here are a few of the ways we’ve tried to share the life and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. with our kids.

Read Together
Of course, one of our favorite ways to share ideas with kids is through picture books. Leading up to Martin Luther King day, your public library will likely feature a special display featuring books about Martin Luther King Jr. Check out this post for a list of picture books that are appropriate for your children.

Or if you can’t make it to the library, this video features David Adler’s A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Watch Together
Each year on Martin Luther King day, you’ll hear and see lots of people speaking on his behalf. But guess what: he’s better at it! Here are a couple of our favorite short videos featuring the Reverend:

“I Have a Dream Speech”
August 26th, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial:

A 5 minute biography
A great primer on King’s life and legacy.

Serve Together
One of the best ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. is to make his holiday a Day-On rather than a day-off. There are lots of family-oriented service opportunities. Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. Make ‘blessing bags‘, survival kits of non-perishable food, water and essentials to keep in the car for the moments when you see people in need around your city.
  2. Serve in a shelter or food bank. Be sure to call ahead to learn what age-appropriate service activities are available.

Or here is a great post with ideas about family-oriented service outings.

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Happy sharing!

Teacher Gives The Gift Of Reading


Late last year we received an email from Ashley Tisdale, a second-grade teacher in North Carolina, saying she had fallen in love with our personalized Christmas book, ‘Twas the Mouse Who Saved Christmas.  She said she wanted to buy a copy for each student in her class… all 18 of them!

I was travelling at the time, but hastily typed back a reply on my phone: (1) we will gladly cut you a break on price and (2) what a generous gesture…how can I enroll my own second-grader in your classroom?!?

Ashley graciously offered to let us share in the joy of her gift with some pictures and a short Q&A:

What’s your passion? What makes you tick?
I am a self-proclaimed DIY rockstar, travel junky, and lifelong learner.

Tell us about your students.
I teach second grade at a Title One school in North Carolina. Most of my students read below grade level but they do show an enjoyment for reading. Watching them grow from the beginning of the year to this point has been inspiring.


What made you decide this was the gift you wanted to give your students?
Instilling a lifelong passion for reading is so important to me so I knew immediately that I wanted to give the students a literacy related gift. I was sorting through my personal library when I came across a personalized Christmas book my mom had made for me when I was four years old. I started searching the internet for customizable Christmas books when I discovered several blogs that mentioned ‘Twas the Mouse Who Saved Christmas. I was so pleased with the reviews, pictures, story, and overall quality that I knew that was what I wanted for my class.


Can you tell us about the kids’ reaction?
They were ecstatic! As soon as they saw the books on their desks, the gasps and busy words of excitement filled the room. Most of them were so happy to have received a gift, they initially didn’t notice that they were personalized. Once they realized their names were in the stories, they went nuts! Their joy was worth every penny.



Postscript: Thank you, Ms. Tisdale, for letting us share in your wonderful gift.  And thank you for reaffirming our belief in the power of education and literacy. Something tells me you’ll be remembered as “my favorite teacher” by lots and lots of kids that get lucky enough to pass through your classroom.




And The Award Goes To…


We’re very excited to announce that Creative Child Magazine has named ‘Twas the Mouse Who Saved Christmas a 2013 Book Of The Year!

This personalized book for Christmas spins the classic Christmas poem around your child’s name. When a daring mouse accidentally rips your child’s name from Santa’s list, she must avoid Santa’s cat, Fritz, and fix things before Christmas!

Christmas is right around the corner! Order a copy now so you can read it with your favorite kiddo throughout the month of December!

Our Beautiful Planet

Check out this beautiful time-lapse film of our awesome planet Earth. The footage was captured by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and made available to the public. Then a generous filmographer came along and cleaned it up for us. This little spinning orb we call home is truly awe-inspiring.

A few interesting tidbits:

  • The ISS orbits the planet about once every 90 mins.
  • It has circled Earth over 57,000 times (traveling more than 1.5 billion miles — the equivalent of eight round trips to the Sun.
  • The yellow/greenish line that you see over the earth is Airglow.

New Personalized Book: ‘Twas The Mouse Who Saved Christmas


We’re stoked to introduce you to our new personalized book, ‘Twas The Mouse Who Saved Christmas!

Meet Pipp Squeak, the adorable but mischievous mouse who lives in Santa’s wall.


‘It’s the night before Christmas and Pipp goes looking for a cookie…


But she finds St. Nick’s cat, Fritz, instead — and accidentally rips Santa’s list!


Gasp! Look whose name got ripped from this list…your child’s!


Pipp tries to fix the list… but she does more harm than good!


And she’s not done yet! Can Pipp avoid getting eaten and fix her mess in time to save your child’s Christmas? Create your personalized book now to find out!

Personalize This Book

The Amazing Hexaflexagon

The “Hexaflexagon” will blow your mind. Watch and learn… and then try making one with your family!

Take Your Kids To Space!

Jeff Pfaller, just blew my mind. He and his 6 year old son put a camera and GPS-enabled smart phone in a cooler, hooked it too a huge baloon and… SENT IT TO SPACE!!! Well, almost to space anyway. At 50,000 feet the balloon burst and the contraption fell back to earth. With the help of the GPS-enabled phone, they found it in a nearby cornfield (but first, according to his son, they made sure to get permission!).

It’s a safe bet this project will do more to spark his imagination and love for science than all the schooling he’ll get in K-12.

Update (6/25/12) — Jeff has posted a how-to guide for other intrepid explorers.

Update (10/10/12) — Check out this eerily similar (but awesome in its own right) video from Ron Fugelseth.

Update (10/15/12) — While you’re at it, show your kids Felix Baumgartner pulling off the human version!

It’s Good To Be Curious

Mr. Rogers remixed and auto-tuned. Awesome.

What a Cockroach Can Teach You About Your Brain

If you’re a teacher (and all of us parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are!), show this TED Talk to the youngsters and young-at-heart in your life. In 6 minutes, your kids will learn more about how the brain works than most people learn by college. Greg Gage tears the leg off a cockroach to demonstrate how the brain uses electrical impulses to understand the environment around us and control our muscles.

Fascinating stuff on so many levels. Who knew that cockroach brains our similar to ours? And if you rip the leg off a cockroach, it will grow back!? Not sure about your kids, but my boys will go nuts over that.

Also, how awesome is it that mind-blowing educational materials like this are available anytime, anywhere… for free?!? We live in amazing times indeed.

A Lemon’s Plea

I can see you’re looking dour,
So I’ve stopped by your address.
It seems that life delivers me
To folks most in distress.
Judging from that dismal scowl,
You’ve had some lousy luck.
Perhaps you lost your tennis match,
Or your radiator’s stuck?
In any case, take my advice –
Tomorrow’s a new day!
Look on the bright side; crack a smile
And I’ll be on my way.
There’s no need for that juicer…
Take a breath and count to three.
Lemonade may cheer your mood,
But it spells the end for me.

Jesse Anna BornemannWritten by Jesse Anna Bornemann.
Illustrated by Allie Biondi.
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