Monday, January 21, 2013

Kid Poetry: 11-Year-Old Writes MLK Poem

Last week, as I was mulling over which book to review or what story to cover in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, an email crossed my desk about a young boy, Nathan, whom I'd interviewed a couple of years ago for a story about amazing kids who volunteer their time for great causes.

The email let me know that Nathan had been diagnosed with autism and ADHD. His mom further explained his condition, saying that, "If you give him a book he will read it front to back and will be able to tell you every single fact, but when you give him a pen and piece of paper it’s like he has a whole other person trapped in his body. He sounds generations older than he really is, like he lived his life already and came back to write about it."

I also learned that one of his biggest passions is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and every year he writes on this topic—not to enter a contest, but to share his thoughts and feelings. 

This year, I decided I had a venue to give him a voice. I hope you'll take a moment to read this poem from an 11-year-old boy with a lot of passion in his heart, that he hopes to share with you. So read and pass it on!


Poem by: Nathan VandenHoogen

Greater I’d be for his marching to our Nation capital!
The king’s voice ringed for fairness for his people
For victory came a death price…
Some people just don’t like mankind…that’s so unkind                                                                 
There is too much self-inflicted violence in this peace-like land.
He wanted rest, peace and freedom that is what is best!
My heart is like his…..
I am a kid! So? So I am small and weak, but soul is very smooth and strong.
So when I speak it will as a GIANT! I will not be silenced!
For in my heart I have a dream…
 A person is a person no matter how small and needs to be heard at any price!!!

Comments are open if you'd like to leave a comment for Nathan. Thank you!


Unknown said...

Nathan we are so proud of you! Your voice is being heard. We love you so much. Love Dad and Lindsay

Heather Grabowski said...

I am delightfully surprised how well you are able to get a thought and a point across. You are amazing and this piece of poetry is quite touching!! Ryan and I are very proud of you. Keep up the great work.
Heather and Ryan

Anonymous said...

Wow nathan waking up to this is not only amazing and touching and you can feel everything from your heart but reading it I can just see you a little more happy after writting every thing down.. if you are 11 now and accomplishing this type of work im so excited to see what else there is to come bud! Great job! YOU ARE THE MAN! love, your sister ann

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan, this is Becky & Mark. We are so happy that your poem and message is being recognized. Your poem is the most multi-meaningful message that we have ever read in our entire lives. Yes it originates as a recognition of DMLK, but you have expanded the message to include the country and the world as it exists today.

We read your poem daily as an incentive and motivator. If others join your "Dream Big" message, good things for the world can be spread and realized. Your message has an infinite amount of messages within.

Realize that Becky & I are 56 & 57 yrs old, but we too are children or "kids". We have just learned a lot from you.

Know that years ago there was a very young girl that wrote a letter to another world leader asking for pease vs war. The situation/conflict at the time did not look good. The girl's letter received worldwide attention and helped to resolved the conflict more so than any of the world leaders could accomplish.

Good Job Nathan!! Continue to write & teach us the right things to do.

We love you...Becky & Mark

Anonymous said...

Nathan I'm so very proud of you, you surprise me every day. I'm so lucky to know you and be apart of your life. Your poem still makes me cry everytime I read it. Keep writing and let your heart be heard. I love you always Morgan.

Nicole Kosterman said...

Wow....Nathan you truelly have a gift and it comes out in your writing! You should be very proud of yourself because there are many who are of you! Keep expressing yourself because people hear you! You to can make a difference...

Love Nicole Kosterman

Anonymous said...


The words that came out of you for this poem show that you are growing into such a mature young man. Kaden, Joe, and I are so proud of you. Keep that heart of yours growing. Congrats on producing such beautiful poetry. Keep it up buddy!

Kaden and I love and miss you!!!
Aunt Amy and Kaden

Anonymous said...


You are awesome! We are so proud of you!

Love Aunt Peg and Uncle Jim

Anonymous said...

Looks like we have a poet in the family! Congrats Nathan

Love your cousin Lorissa

lvandenhoogen said...

Aww goos job nathan! Couldnt be anymore proud of you! Keep up the good work! I love you forever and i miss you.

Auntie Laura

Unknown said...

As you know Dad and I always support your choices. We...(Dad,you,me and all your Webster staff,vounteer leaders,friends,neighbors and family have all contributed in building your concrete foundation for your future. ("Remember it takes a village to raise a child")To raise you the person...all we needed to add was love and happiness. Dad and I always ask you... what kind of person do you want to be? You always say: happy, healthy, my own person, a leader and successful. And you always ask us what kind of parent will you be? We always say your parents FOREVER, that will always love you for good and bad, help guide you through the mistakes and show you how to fix them, always be there through thick and thin, you are stuck with us forever.. you always laugh. Nathan you have gone through so many experiences(good,bad and horrible) in your short little life... everytime our little family endures pain or heartache we have always stuck together.. we always ask why us? but you, me and dad say it can make us or break us. All of our pain has made us stronger than the Great Wall... Remember People have to go through 18,000,000,000 Great Walls thick and than stands me and dad in front of you.(haaa) Do you remember 4 years ago and to where you are now... Buddy, what a journey we went through but we kept at it, all the tears, the hurt, all the laughs, all the books, all the love..You did it. You made it. Your stepping stones are so concrete. Remember when you said this is your first step on your own to the White House and you said I have a million more to go. I can see YOU doing it instead of walking you would be running. That is what is so wonderful about you, you have a theory and than you do all your reseach and than make your plan (than you talk with me and dad with our advice) and than whammm you make it happen. You always tell me this world needs to change. Everyday you come home with a new topic on how people and the world hate, or greedy or planly are "punks". what do I always say... what are you going to do about it. you always say make a change, educate, speak up and make it happen...Buddy not to many people have the confidence the courage the care to do what you do.You are very unique just like our rare pink gem you treasure and have hidden. No one is like you. you are finally becoming your own person. Love you sooooo much sweetheart I am always here WITH you. Dad and I can not wait for the next adventure with you. Love you 50 trillion X 1000 gazillion times around the galaxy and than down to the bottom of the sea in our sub. love Mumma Mae

Anonymous said...

Nathan, you did a wonderful job on your poem. You are contributing to the world in your own unique way. Keep up the good work and remember no dreams are to big or to small to chase.
Love you always and forever,
Grandma and Grandpa

Anonymous said...

Congrats on such a beautiful poem Nathan. We are all so proud of you and miss you more than you'll ever know Love you, Great grandma Peg

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Hi Nathan,

What an amazing poem! I am a writer too - I write picture books for children -but you are a poet! I especially liked these lines:
"For victory came a death price…
Some people just don’t like mankind…that’s so unkind
There is too much self-inflicted violence in this peace-like land."
and these lines:
"So when I speak it will as a GIANT! I will not be silenced!
For in my heart I have a dream… "
Beautifully written, moving, thought-provoking and inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing your poem with us!
Susanna Hill

Anonymous said...

Nathan - your poem is absolutely amazing. I think you have an incredible talent! I hope you continue create great poems with such powerful meanin. Love you and miss you! Your cousin, Tonja from Iowa

Yanting Gueh said...

"but soul is very smooth and strong" is just about my favourite line. Well-done, Nathan! Keep writing, keep speaking up, keep spreading strength.

Anonymous said...

Hey nathan! Great job on the poem. You have a gift. Im a senior in high school and I cant even write that well. Im proud of you. -Gage

Anonymous said...

This was just a wonderful poem and are such an inspiration for anyone just wanting to have their voice heard.

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