Edited by Nikki Giovanni
I wish Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2008) had been around when I was in elementary school. For most of my life I had a blind spot when it came to poetry, because nobody, not even a teacher or a librarian, introduced me to good poetry. If I had been introduced to poetry through Hip Hop Speaks to Children as a child, I know I would have been made a poetry lover much earlier in life.
Hip Hop Speaks to Children is an amazing collection of more than 50 poems and songs by poets and artists like Jacqueline Woodson, Gwendolyn Brooks, A Tribe Called Quest, Gary Soto, Kanye West, Langston Hughes, Queen Latifah, Mos Def, Charles R. Smith Jr., Maya Angelou, Walter Dean Myers, Lauryn Hill, James Berry, and W.E.B. Du Bois. These poems and songs with great rhythm come with an introduction by the book's editor, Nikki Giovanni - an introduction that really opened my eyes to the history and significance of hip hop.
And it's not just the literature in the book that has a beat. The book design, from the different fonts to the different layouts, and the illustrations by Kristen Balouch, Michele Noiset, Jeremy Tugeau, Alicia Vergel de Dios, Damian Ward, and Caroline Wolf are all fresh, colorful, and alive. The book also comes with an audio CD of more than 30 performances of the poems and songs.
I highly recommend this book, especially for children who are reluctant poetry readers. (I should know, I used to be one of them!) Hip Hop Speaks to Children makes poetry fun, incredibly accessible, and meaningful for children.
[My copy of Hip Hop Speaks to Children was provided by the publisher.]
Check Book Aunt for this week's roundup of blog posts on poetry from around the kidlitosphere.