Oct 14, 2008

Hip Hop Speaks to Children Edited by Nikki Giovanni

I received Hip Hop Speaks to Children edited by Nikki Giovanni from Danielle at Sourcebooks, and Giovanni continues to make television and radio experiences about the book.

Poetry often has an internal rhythm like everyday speech does, and Hip Hop has taken that rhythm and modified it to create a modern day form of poetry, which engages younger generations and children by making poetry fun.

This book came with an audio CD, which you can use to read along with the book or skip around in the book to a variety of poems, and the CD also includes separate introductions to various pieces.

The book touts the talents of Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks, Eloise Greenfield, Maya Angelou, Queen Latifah, Young MC, and many others. The audio CD has poems read aloud, poems set to music, and some poems are sung. When I first started reading this book and listened to the CD at the same time, I was a bit confused because the poems on the CD were not in sequential order with the book. Then I realized that the poems on the CD have headphone designations and track numbers--check out the sample page to the right.

The beats would make any kid want to get up and dance, and I think the idea of incorporating music with the poetry will keep kids interested. It also makes it easier for children to follow along on their own, which makes this book something parents can sit with their children and work alongside them or set those kids off on their own with the book and CD in hand.

The illustrations are modern, abstract, crisp, and impressionistic and closely relate to the subject matter of each poem. Check out the page for Rapper's Delight, which is a poem/song from the Sugarhill Gang.

The introduction to the poem is read by Nikki Giovanni and helps explain where the inspiration for the poem/song came from. I found that to be the most captivating introduction.

Queen Latifah makes an appearance in the book and on the audio CD as well. One of my favorites from the CD is Dat Dere by Oscar Brown, Jr., which was inspired by is "inquisitive child" asking questions about everything.

We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks is read by the poet, which is followed by a live performance with Nikki Giovanni, Oni Lasana, and Val Gray Ward "hamboning" the poem. I remember the inherent sadness in this poem from middle school, and it still stirs up emotions, particularly hearing it when read aloud.

About Nikki Giovanni: (Picture at Above)

Nikki Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Over the past thirty years, her outspokenness, in her writing and in lectures, has brought the eyes of the world upon her. One of the most widely-read American poets, she prides herself on being "a Black American, a daughter, a mother, a professor of English." Giovanni remains as determined and committed as ever to the fight for civil rights and equality. Always insisting on presenting the truth as she sees it, she has maintained a prominent place as a strong voice of the Black community. Her focus is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others.

Also Reviewed By:
Becky's Book Reviews
The Friendly Book Nook
Cafe of Dreams


Anonymous said...

My son is an English major at Virginia Tech and he can't wait to take on on Nikki Giovanni's classes. He says the students love her.

Serena said...

I hear she's great in person, but I've only read her poetry.

Arlene said...

oh! i love your blog — the book reviews are terrific. i never know what to read. i'm adding you to my links list.

thanks! (also for the note on my blog.)

Serena said...

Arlene: I'm glad you are enjoying the reviews. Thanks for adding my link. I'll have some contemporary poetry reviews coming up soon, and I've been reading your blog for a bit off and on. BTW, I love your poetry!

Jill said...

I will definitely be on the lookout for this one! Sounds like a winner. Great review!

Serena said...

it was a good book, but i really liked the cd best.

Anonymous said...

Love stuff like this! I purchase so many of these types of book for my kids over the years. It makes home schooling fun.

Serena said...

well I'm glad I could help. I really thought this book had a great deal to offer.

Anna said...

Though hip hop is so not my thing, I think this book looks neat. I bet kids would love it for sure. Great review!


Serena said...

I know one 8-year-old who will be happy this Christmas! LOL

Hip-hop old school isn't bad...lol and much of it is old school hip hop!

Anna said...

Oh, I know she'll love it! I'm looking forward to checking it out!


Marie Cloutier said...

sounds like a fun book for kids. :-)thanks for the great review.

Jeannie said...

This looks so fun! And it works for us big kids too. I was a kid when Rapper's Delight hit the airwaves. The song still makes me want to get up and dance.

Thanks for the review. :D

Serena said...

Jeannie: I just think its neat that poets are aiming to teach kids about poetry and its many applications.

Marie: I'm glad that you enjoyed the review. I think its a fun book.

April said...

Great review! I think this is just the coolest way to get kids to want to learn.

Serena said...

April: I've always thought that mixing music and other media to teach children is the best option, especially if you can make activities interactive.

Anonymous said...

I would love to check this out for my kids. My daughter loves Shel Silverstein's poems. I'd love to expose her to different poets.

Serena said...

Shel Silverstein was one of my favorites as a kid. He got me hooked and I never looked back. I think you should check out this book. I'm giving my copy away to my little "niece" for the holidays!

Anonymous said...

I'm adding this to my list of gift ideas for the kids for the holidays.

Serena said...

Dawn: I liked it and I'm not even a kid anymore. LOL