10 activities based on the picture book Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You

8 Jan

Be a King

Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream and You, illustrated by James E. Ransome, is an un-biography. Rather than a story about King’s life, the book is inspiration to live by his example.

Here’s what the Barnes & Noble blog had to say about the book: “While many books indirectly inspire conversations about the continued relevance of Dr. King’s work, this is the first one I’ve seen to make such a clear connection to the lives of today’s children. This is the perfect book to purchase when your children are young, and revisit in increasingly complex ways as they mature.”

Here’s how you can use the book in your classroom.

  • Reader’s theater or choral reading: With its affirming refrain, “You can be a King,” the book is tailor-made for choral reading. Add costumes for a staged reading. Intersperse protest songs from the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Decorate a door or bulletin board: Give students Post-It notes to pledge how they will be a King in their own classroom or community.

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  • Plant a dream: Give students an outline of a shoe. Have them write and/or draw a future goal on the shoe. Or give each student a seed to represent their dreams. Students will plant and germinate the seeds. Write dreams on masking tape and affix to the seed pots.
  • Stop bullying: Do role plays of bullying scenarios to show ways that students can intervene on a peer’s behalf.
  • King mural project: Take a cue from the class in the book and create portraits of King. Paper a door or  bulletin board with students art.
  • King Collage: Create a collage using scenes from King’s life. The collage could be a portrait of King or a symbol of the movement that he led.
  • Blackout poem: Use King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to create a blackout poem.
  • Add a spread to the book. Start with the refrain, “You can be a King.” Add two more lines suggesting a way to serve others or foster tolerance. Illustrate your text.
  • Name a King and Queen of help in your class or school. Vote for the winner.
  • Check out the 13 extension activities created by this enterprising educator.


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