Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat

Giovanni, Nikki. 2008. HIP HOP SPEAKS TO CHILDREN: A CELEBRATION OF POETRY WITH A BEAT. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks. ISBN 1402210485 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK–6]

This is a collection of 51 songs and poems celebrating African American writing for young people edited by poet Nikki Giovanni. It includes a CD with 35 of the poems recorded. Each track is a stand-alone treat, moving from spoken word to music and lyrics back and forth in a varied and pleasing way. There is nothing quite like hearing a poem read by the poet himself or herself. It etches itself into one's aural memory. Hearing the voice of Langston Hughes in an old recording of his own reading of his poetry is a window into time. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is here, alongside a modern re-interpretation of it. A few tracks provide Nikki Giovanni's commentary on the history or context for a particular poem or song.

The range of selections is tremendous and provides a window into African American poem history, the blurring of music and poetry, and the voices of color that have contributed to poetry for young people for over half a century. It's a celebration of sound and song in poetry for young people of all ages and colors. It holds up for listening to over and over again, an excellent sign for any work!

Play the recordings and listen first, then join in on reading some of the poem selections aloud. Some of the tracks are NOT recorded, so kids could make their own recordings or podcasts of those poem selections.

Other poetry collections with audio components:
Paschen, Elise. POETRY SPEAKS TO CHILDREN. ISBN 1402203292

By Sylvia M. Vardell

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