March Book Review: Hip Hop Speaks to Children by Nikki Giovanni

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Hip Hop Speaks to Children by Nikki Giovanni

Originally published I 2008 this work includes contributions from artists such as James Baldwin, Gil Scott-Heron, and Queen Latifah. With the inclusion of a compact disc you and your child can enjoy Hip Hop as the poetry it was meant to be. The illustrators did a wonderful job collaborating and bring the words to life through art. The font is also child friendly. The introduction is where parents can have a head start on what to expect and how to best utilize the book. The book was actually a little thicker than I originally thought so imagine my surprise when I decided to review it. I choose this book because it was written by renowned author Nikki Giovanni and I wanted to highlight a woman author and someone who understands poetry.

The compact disc is a great way to further your child’s understanding of Hip Hop’s relationship to poetry. Ever poem in the book is not on the compact disc and a lot of the works are performed by the author themselves. Before some of the tracks Nikki Giovanni gives a type explanation as to how a particular passage fits within the constructs of poetry. She breaks down Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech and how the cadence allows you to remember what is being said. It shows you that poetry and Rap music are more than just rhyming words. The illustrations are beautiful works of art that convey the mood of each work.

If you are teaching your child(ren) to read this is a great book to use. I’m sure some parents may learn a thing or two as well. A lot of the stories are relatable to various cultures as is Hip Hop Culture. Portions of songs written by Kanye West and Jill Scott show you how poetry is still prevalent in music today. My favorite is Mos Def’s “Umi Says” with the illustration on an emcee preforming for stage lights. The art truly couples with the words on every page. Jazz is the parent genre to Hip Hop and it is made apparent in “Dat Dere” by Oscar Brown Jr. which is shortly followed by Young MC’s “Principal’s Office”. Two situations parents and kids can relate to and hopefully continue to deepen the relationship between both parties. I can name drop all day with this book and these are some quality names; Lauryn Hill, Maya Angelou, and Aesop Rock are all contributors to this work. The book would not be complete without lyrics from Tupac Shakur. In the back of the book there is are a few words about each author. This is a wonderful book of poetry that can be for anyone anywhere.