Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April is National Poetry Month - Hip Hop Speaks to Children edited by Nikki Giovanni




Genre – Poetry
Grade Level:  K – 8
Interest Level: K-10

Themes – 

This book has GOT to be in your collection. It is a must have for the poetry, history and the artwork. Published in 2008, it is already timeless.

Nikki Giovanni edited this collection of poems, lyrics, raps that range in topic from everyday activities like walking to the store to get candy, or getting sent to the principals office to more ideological topics of  love, equality and having a dream.

Just as diverse, are the author’s Giovanni has included.  In this collection you will find classic poetry titans like Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and Pedro Pietri;urban legends Gil Scott Heron and Tupac; cultural icons like Maya Angelou, and Queen Latifah; and contemporary wordsmiths, Common,  Kanye West and Jacqueline Woodson.  This collection represents generations of African American and urban stories and experiences.

Nikki Giovanni’s scholarship, and creative genius, along with her knowledge, appreciation and understanding of  hip hop culture, make her the perfect conduit for this celebration of stories, rhythm, language and hip hop.  Her goal is not only to celebrate hip hop, but to evidence the essential elements of hip hop  throughout history.

In addition to the delight of simply reading and/or listening to the selections in the book(a cd is included), there are many instructional possibilities. These begin with Giovanni’s introduction which takes the reader on a historical journey of language and rhythm. She discusses oral tradition, music, vernacular,  and other forms of expression, laid against a timeline of African American History. The introduction is worthy of  a lesson(s)  that would be relevant in history, ELA and possibly music. It provides an opportunity for meeting common core requirements as an informational text. In addition, at the end of the book, there is biographical information about the editor/advisors, illustrators and all contributors. This could lend itself to more in depth biographical studies of the many diverse authors and illustrators represented in the collection.

The illustrations, with credit to several wonderful illustrators are beautiful and  worthy of picture walks, critical viewing and discussion on their own. The 51 poems provide many choices for lessons in ELA, music, social studies, as core or supplemental material.

This collection not only provides an excellent responsive, instructional opportunity to provide  your students, but also for the educator who needs to increase his/her cultural knowledge of hip hop culture, youth culture, urban culture and African American culture. Move to the beat of cultural responsiveness, in Hip Hop Speak to Children.

Don't walk, get yo' groove and go get this book!


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