Hip Hop Speaks To Children

I can’t tell you how happy I am to review this book on my blog. Hip Hop Speaks To Children, edited by Nikki Giovanni, is one of the most exciting books for children that I’ve seen in a long time. It will be released on October 7, 2008, from Sourcebooks, Inc., but I was so pleased to receive a copy a few weeks ago to review for you here.

Actually, I took it to my classroom first. Because who knows books for children better than children themselves? Can I just tell you? They loved it! The book comes with an accompanying CD, on the inside front cover, which I just put in the CD player while the children gathered around me.

I showed them the pictures while we listened to the poems being read, or sung, by various artists, and we got so happy we started snapping our fingers. Then, we started bobbing our heads. Finally, a few kids couldn’t stand it, and they got up to dance. The music made us all feel so good. But, that isn’t to say they weren’t listening. Some of the poems are happy, and some of them are serious; all of them have something to say to children and adults.

This page’s poem is on a personal note for me. My son and I have been very close. In fact, I don’t think I was doing a very good job of letting him breathe on his own when he was a Junior, so he had to show me he could carve his own path. We went through a few struggles, but this summer he called to me from the kitchen’s Bose radio. “Mom!”, he said. “I’ve got this song I want you to hear!” It was “Hey, Mama” by Kanye West, and the words immediately touched my heart. Since you can’t see them too clearly in the picture above, I’ll write a few stanzas here:

I wanna scream
so loud for you, cuz I’m so
proud of you
Let me tell you what I’m about to do,
I know I act a fool but,
I promise you I’m goin back to school
I appreciate what you allowed for me
I just want you to be proud of me
Apparently, this book could be titled “Hip Hop For Children, Teenagers, and Mothers.”

Then, there’s this page with a poem about books by Eloise Greenfield. It goes like this:

I’ve got
books on the bunk bed
books on the chair
books on the couch
And every old where
But I want more books
just can’t get enough
wnat more books about
All kinds of stuff, like
Jackie’s troubles, Raymond’s joys
Rabbits, kangaroos, Girls and Boys
Mountains, valleys, Winter, Spring
Campfires, vampires
Every old thing
I want to
Lie down on my bunk bed!
Lean back in
my chair
Curl up on the
And every old

Apparently, this book could be titled “Hip Hop For Children, Teenagers, Mothers and Readers.”

Then, there’s a poem about being sent to the principal’s office:

Now normally if I can help it
I don’t spend a lot of time in a principal’s office
RING!!! What? 9’o clock!!!
Now as I get to school
I hear the late bell ringing
Running through the hall
I hear the glee club singing
Get to the office
I can hardly speak
’cause it’s the third late pass that I got this week…

You got it: “Hip Hop For Children, Teenagers, Mothers, Readers, and Faculty.”

There are poems by Eloise Greenfield, Mos Def, Lucille Clifton, Maya Angelou, Queen Latifah and more. The illustrations are gorgeous, the poems are meaningful, and best of all, the children can relate to this book by reading it…listening to it…being with it.

I close with a few of their comments:

“I liked how they had different kinds of styles~low voiced ones and really funny ones.” Brianna

“I liked Queen Latifah because she’s a girl rapper. I never thought she would rap on a book.” Dede

“I liked how they made a song when they were telling a story with a beat.” Roveena

“I like the songs because they’re hip hop and jazz.” Hailey

“I like how they sing the words and they rhyme.” Abha

Me? I like the book period. It’s a great addition to anyone’s library no matter what your age.