I'll admit it: the kid is hip-hop-deprived. the closest I've gotten to rapping for her is shouting out "Help the police! Help, help, help the police!" when I get pulled over, and chanting a few fragments of Tom Tom Club's dance club classic, "Wordy Rappinghood" in the morning.
So I wasn't prepared for the mad props being bestowed on Hip Hop Speaks To Children: A Celebration of Poetry With A Beat, a picture book with an accompanying CD that presents hip hop lyrics from the likes of Tupac, Queen Latifah, and the Sugarhill Gang alongside black poet poems from Langston Hughes to Maya Angelou. From Motoko Rich's article in The NY Times' yesterday:
While hip-hop has become ubiquitous on the radio and on television, its verbal component is increasingly embraced as a literary form. "There is a growing sensibility that is recognizing that hip-hop is where poetry lives today in so many ways," said Adam Bradley, assistant professor of African-American literature at Claremont McKenna College in California, who is an editor of a coming anthology of rap lyrics for Yale University Press.Then there's this, from the School Library Journal Blog, which is blurbed on the book's Amazon page:
Professor Bradley added that for children, hip-hop was a natural way to learn the basics of poetry. "The kinds of word games that children naturally create really mirror hip-hop in its most basic forms," he said.
Our consensus is Hip Hop Speaks to Children is the most essential poetry purchase to make this year.Which gives me hope for the next book in the series, Let's Play Master & Servant: Depeche Mode Speaks To Children.
The poetry is enough.
The illustrations are enough.
The CD is enough.
Together, this book is a treasure of which you cannot get enough.
Uhh, Hey-o, dads in da hizzouse, yo! Child's Garden of Hip-Hop (for Mom to Love, Too) [nyt]
Because the grandparents probably won't: Buy Hip Hop Speaks to Children with CD: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat from Amazon, $13.59 [amazon]