Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat edited by Nikki Giovanni

The editor of this book defines Hip Hop as "poetry with a beat" and this collection has a wide range of poems mainly written by African American poets and writers. Artists range from Queen Latifah, Kanye West, and current rappers to Harlem Renaissance great Langston Hughes. I found it to be a really interesting collection of poems and I enjoyed listening to the accompanying CD which includes a selection of the poems read by the authors and other performers. I think the primary audience of this book will be elementary school teachers who want to pick and choose poems to use in their classrooms. A child who picked up this book thinking it would be all hip hop will be disappointed—it's all rhythmic poetry but much of it is more traditional poetry, some without a strong rhythm or any obvious connection to modern hip hop and rap. Quite a few of the poems are more mature and could be appreciated by older kids and teens, but the cover illustration and many of the illustrations in the book make it appear more juvenile than I think the book really is. Elementary teachers will love "The Rosa Parks" and "from Principal's Office." My personal favorite is "Dat Dere" and I can't get that song from the CD out of my head. School and Public Libraries will want to purchase this, but get it in the hands of teachers so that it gets used and appreciated.

No comments: