Friday, February 21, 2014

Book-A-Day 21: Hip Hop Speaks to Children

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

I love poetry and sharing it with children, particularly poems that carry a distinct rhythm to their words. This book does exactly that with the poems that fill it's pages - it speaks to children.  I love that there are poems taken from the lyrics of hip hop artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, and Young MC combined with selection from traditional poets Eloise Greenfield, Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou.  Included with the book is a CD in which a handful of selections are read orally or sung from the song for which the lyrics were written.  The illustrations that accompany each poem on the inside of the book are done by various artists, and they are all fun, colorful and interesting to look at from one page to the next.  Also included is an amazing introduction by Nikki Giovanni in which she describes how rhythm, rap and hip hop have been a part of societal cultures for years in various shapes and forms.  Her history into the this artistic art form is very interesting and well worth the read.  As eager as you might be to skip over this introduction - don't!  You will learn a thing or two that will give you even a greater appreciation for the poems that follow.

This would be a fun book to "take apart" and have students each study a different poem.  Each student could perform their assigned poem and then compare their performance with the poet's performance on the CD.  They could also draw a unique illustration that represents their assigned poem.  Pair their illustration with how they choose to read their poem to create a digital anthology of poetry in a collaborative tool such as Voicethread.  These poems could also be used as part of a poetry slam in which students rehearse and perform their selected poems in a creative way.  

Check out the video clip below to hear Nikki Giovanni discuss this book and share what she liked most about working on this anthology.  While this is not a recent video, it's wonderful to see Nikki Giovanni introduce this book before it's initial release back in 2008.

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