Friday, February 20, 2009

Poetry Book Review: Hip Hop Speaks to Children


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

Edited by: Nikki Giovanni

Illustrated by: Kristen Balouch, Michele Noiset, Jeremy Tugeau, Alicia Vergel de Dios, and Damian Ward

Published by: Source Books, Inc., 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4022-1048-8

Summary:

This colorful volume of poetry is full of beautiful words by a variety of notable poets, performers, and even historical figures. There are numerous styles of poetry presented in this book, all ones that encourage the reader to read out loud and with a beat. An accompanying CD features performances by the authors of some of the works. Beautifully colored illustrations accompany each piece enriching the appeal of this book.

My Thoughts About this Book:

From the moment you hold this book in your hands, you know it is a treasure. From the over sized pages, featuring colorful illustrations and numerous art styles to the wealth of poems by noted poets of color featured, this book has something for everyone. I enjoyed the unique layout of each poem featured in the book. Every page turn brought another treat for the eyes in how the poem was presented. The list of authors read like a "Who's Who of Poetry" including Langston Hughes, Eloise Greenfield, Maya Angelou, and even Queen Latifah.

The accompanying CD allows you to hear many of the poems performed by the authors. I particularly enjoyed editor, Nikki Giovonni's descriptions of the different styles of poetry and how they came to be interspersed in between the poetry performances on the CD. The audio performances, allow opportunities for students to hear these poets read their poems with their unique inflection and expression and understanding that only the author of the work could bring to a performance of the poem. I found the recording of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech a nice addition to the CD, as well as the vocal interpretation of the speech by Nikki Giovanni, Oni Lasana, and Val Gray Ward that ends the CD. I think this would be a great way to inspire students to turn a well-known speech into performance art.

If you are planning to do performance poetry with any age group, I highly recommend this book. The works included here will make a memorable performance for any audience.

Review Excerpt:

From Booklist: "With appeal for preliterate children, their great grandparents, and every generation between, this will be fun for families to share as they get their groove on."

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