Virtual Read-In Brings MLK's Legacy Alive For Young Children

Virtual Read-In Brings MLK's Legacy Alive For Young Children

10:47am Jan 17, 2021
A young girl learns about Martin Luther King Jr. with her two reading buddies during last year's MLK Read-In in Winston-Salem. This year's event will be held virtually due to the pandemic. Photo credit: WSSU Photographer Te’Drenna Coleman.
  • Winston-Salem State University Assistant Director of Student Activities and MLK Read In co-organizer Chelii Broussard leads a group discussion during last year's event. This year's event will be held virtually due to the pandemic. Photo credit: WSSU's Te’Drenna Coleman.

  • Children arrive at one of several MLK Read-In activity tables. Each participant receives an age-appropriate book and a civil rights themed book, supplies for all activities, and a healthy snack bag. Photo credit: WSSU Te’Drenna Coleman.

Local organizations are finding creative new ways to celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the pandemic age. This week, up to 200 children aged 4-11 are expected to take part in this year’s Virtual “Read-In” to honor King, and promote his message of civil rights, the importance of community service and literacy. 

The children will be paired with reading buddies — mostly volunteer college students from Winston-Salem State and Wake Forest Universities — and they’ll engage in themed activities like “Gratitude,” writing letters to someone they’re grateful for; “Advocacy,” advocating for a special cause and creating their own signs; and “I Have A Dream.” The students will write a collective poem around their own personal dreams as well as those they have for their community. Winston-Salem State Assistant Director of Student Activities Chelii Broussard says it partners imagination and literacy in powerful ways.

“Hearing all these dreams, ‘I want  to be a dentist,’ ‘I want to be a fireman,’ ‘I want to be a policeman,’ ‘I want world peace,’ and this is coming from 4-10 year-olds,” says Broussard.“ Seeing that really does inspire me to want to do more for this age group just to know that they aspire to be better or want better.”

The program provides a variety of volunteer opportunities for older students and community members: assembling and distributing learning kits for the children, serving as reading buddies, and facilitating group discussions. Wake Forest Assistant Director of Community Partnerships Camry Wilborn oversees training and scheduling.

“As we’re talking about making a difference I think it helps to show our volunteers that you don’t have to be someone famous like Martin Luther King to make a difference in our community,” says Wilborn.

The 12th annual “Read-In” to honor the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday is Saturday, January 23. Kits with books, supplies, and healthy snacks will be distributed in advance. Registration for the event continues through Tuesday morning. 

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus in North Carolina, visit our Live Updates blog here. WFDD wants to hear your stories — connect with us and let us know what you’re experiencing.

*Editor's Note: This transcript was lightly edited for clarity.


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