Martin's Big Words
    by Harun Thomas (reader)

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You're hearing some of the famous words of Dr. Martin Luther King from Martin's Big Words, a recent video for young people from Weston Woods Studios. This short film is based on a picture book by Doreen Rappaport. Through Michael Clarke Duncan's sonorous voice and the subtle, collage-like graphics of Bryan Collier, based on his original illustrations for the book, the film introduces younger children to the "big words" that Dr. King first heard as a child, growing up in the segregated South. He took to heart his mother's encouraging, affirming words and his father's inspiring sermons in church, and while still young he resolved to master these words and to use them in his own life. Words like "love" and "freedom" and "peace." They may not be the longest words in the language, but they are among its most profound. In this brief biography of his life, the film also makes it abundantly clear how interested Dr. King also was in powerful words like "courage" and "solution," "together" and "brotherhood." Set aside for a moment, for this one day in the year, all the arguments about what's better: whole language or phonics. The "big" words in this film, composed as they are of the letters of Dr. King's alphabet of belief and sacrifice, are (or should be) one of the basic, unforgettable, vocabulary lessons of all our lives.

Brief sound clip

Copyright 2003 John Cech

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."