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.

10 thoughts on “Hip Hop Speaks To Children”

  1. I was so excited to read this review on your blog! I have been reading a lot on the power of hip hop with kids and Giovanni is one of my favorite authors. I can't wait to get it. 🙂 Susan


  2. Susan, I'm so happy you enjoyed it. I promise you won't be disappointed, and neither will your class. (By the way, I really like your "new" look: in your blog, and in your photograph.)


  3. Totally not my thing, but that sounds like a great resource for you and terrific for the kids! I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Come to think of it, I always enjoy reading your thoughts. 🙂


  4. What an incredible post, Bellezza!! I love the sound of this book. Would it be suitable for a 6-year-old? I could always get it and save it for a future birthday or Christmas. Sounds too good to pass up.


  5. Bookfool, back at you!Les, it would be great for a 6 year old. Even though some of the poems might be a bit older for her in their content, the music and rhyme and rhythm are for everyone. I'm so glad you're enthused about it as I was, even though like bookfool said, I'm not usually into hip hop.


  6. Another thing that I should have mentioned is how it has a multicultural aspect. I have a lot of diversity in my room, which is so exciting, but often the literature comes only from one race's perspective. This book was applicable to all the kids in my class.CTG and Robin, I'm certain your classes will love it, too. You may want to order it on Amazon (the link is in the post) because they have a good price for it.


  7. It sounds like my friend's class would like it. I was helping some of them with their multiplication this afternoon, and I was wishing for something like that for the times tables. What do you use with your third graders?Thanks for the birthday greeting. I learned long ago that you don't depend on people to make you happy!As I said, my son was horrified that he had forgotten. He said the card was right there at his house, and they're planning to take me to D.C. Last year I told them that for Christmas I didn't want anything that could be brought into the house!Merci encore.


  8. Oh, Beverly, I wish I had a magic trick for memorizing multiplication tables. The 0, 1, 2, and 5 tables are easy; the nines have a few tricks, everything is else "you have to just memorize it." Although, you probably know a few gimmicks for a few odd problems: 8 X 8 = 64 (I 'ate' and I 'ate'= what did I get 'sick for'" and 7 X 8 = 56 goes in order: 5,6,7,8. If you aren't familiar with the 9 tricks let me know. There are TONS for nines that are almost magical.And, you're so welcome for birthday wishes. Like you wish people could help you eat your fruit surprise, I wish you could come to my classroom. We'd have a lot of fun.


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