Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. day! To celebrate the day, revisit some of Dr. King’s writing. Dr. Roger Gilles (my husband), a big fan of King’s, recommends these three: “A Time to Break Silence,” King’s speech about the Vietnam war; “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence,” an essay King wrote about his philosophical education; and “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” in which he responds to liberal clergymen who had encouraged him to slow down the pace of his civil rights’ efforts and strive for incremental change. What a great day and time to reflect on what King stood for; how we could benefit from his wisdom today. We must content ourselves with what we have—his speeches, his essays, his sermons, his legacy.
In honor of Dr. King, I want all of you to introduce kids to their counterparts around the world with The Milestones Project: Celebrating Childhood Around the World (Tricycle, $12.95). The purpose of the Milestones Project is to document childhood experiences in vastly different cultures. There are more than 30,000 photos—and growing—at the website, www.milestonesproject.com. The creators of the project, Dr. Richard and Michele Steckel, aim to “make a more peaceful world by encouraging the recognition that, beneath our beliefs or skin color, we are all the same.” So the book is filled with beautiful photos and short essays by writers like Cynthia Rylant and J.K. Rowling about their milestones: birthdays, losing a tooth, and getting a new sibling, among them. It’s amazing how similar children’s reactions are. Around the world, kids often get scared when their hair is cut. From whence does the compulsion spring to stick your tongue into the space left by a missing tooth? There are also quotes from children, ‘out of the mouths of babes’ quotes’, like this one from Gracious, age 9, in South Africa: “I need a year to stop hatred. First, at my own country. After, I try by going to each country, talk to people province by province, and hear their problems and why they hate another people…I can stop hatred by communication.” There is so much to be gleaned from this book. Conversation topics and writing prompts suggest themselves at every turn. Have fun reminiscing about your own milestones and then document them to report about your corner of the world.