Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A celebration of poetry with a beat. Edited by Nikki Giovanni
I've been reading Nigel poetry since he was a baby. My appreciation for the art form began in grade school; I remember my own introductions to Gwendolyn Brooks, Lansgton Hughes, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Gil Scott Heron. I loved the ebb and flow, the sway of the rhythmic words. I'm also a fan of many musical genres, especially Hip Hop and Neo Soul. Artists like Queen Latifa, Tupac and Lauryn Hill are poets in their own right, setting their prose to pulsating beats. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree so naturally, just like his ShoMommy, Nigel loves verses, rhymes and music of all kinds. Nikki Giovanni has compiled more than 50 selections from talented writers and lyricists. A CD is included which features poems like "People Equal", "We Wear The Masks", "A Negro Speaks of Rivers" and Ego Trippin" to vibrant beats. It makes the art form come alive. This got my boy very excited. He was interested in the lives of the poets now. We listened and read along with the book. We talked about the Harlem Renaissance and researched the origins of Hip Hop. Most of the musical selections included are not set to music, so we made our own. We took turns playing his drumset and performing. He LOVED Mos Def's "Umi Says" so we found the song on my Ipod. The last track, an excerpt from MLK's "I Have A Dream" speech, really blew his mind. He couldn't believe it was Dr. King's real voice! I could go on and on about this book, but in short it is a great way to introduce your children to poetry and a variety of music including quality hip hop, jazz and blues. It initiates conversation about rhymes, rhythms, new vocabulary and other literary concepts. After we finished the book and CD Nigel spouted rhymes, scatted and be-bopped the rest of the day.