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

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Our consensus is Hip Hop Speaks to Children is the most essential poetry purchase to make this year.
The poetry is enough.
The illustrations are enough.
The CD is enough.
Together, ...

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Our consensus is Hip Hop Speaks to Children is the most essential poetry purchase to make this year.
The poetry is enough.
The illustrations are enough.
The CD is enough.
Together, this book is a treasure of which you cannot get enough.
We shall accomplish much this year. Children will be encouraged to put their words to poetry and beats. Teachers will be encouraged to allow the artists to speak to children.
—Diane Chen, School Library Journal blog "Practically Paradise"


Hip Hop Speaks to Children is a celebration of poetry with a beat.

Poetry can have both a rhyme and a rhythm. Sometimes it is obvious; sometimes it is hidden. But either way, make no mistake, poetry is as vibrant and exciting as it gets. And when you find yourself clapping your hands or tapping your feet, you know you've found poetry with a beat!

Like Poetry Speaks to Children, the New York Times Bestselling classic poetry book and CD that started it all, Hip Hop Speaks to Children is meant to be the beginning of a journey of discovery.

READ more than 50 remarkable poems and songs!

HEAR poetry's rhymes and rhythms from Queen Latifah to Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes to A Tribe Called Quest and more!
• Also hear part of Martin Luther Kind's original "I Have a Dream" speech, followed by the remarkable live performance of the speech by Nikki Giovanni, Oni Lasana and Val Gray Ward.
• The Hip Hop Speaks to Children CD contains more than 30 performances, either by the artists who created them, or as unique interpretations by admiring poets and artists.

DISCOVER Langston Hughes's elegant gospel "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," A Tribe Called Quest's playful "Ham 'N' Eggs," Sterling A. Brown's hard-luck "Long Track Blues," Gwendolyn Brooks's wake-up call "We Real Cool," Kanye West's lovely "Hey Mama," and Martin Luther King Jr.'s awe-inspiring "I Have a Dream."

This is a collection of rhymes and rhythms unlike any other poetry book!

Celebrate with remarkable poets, including:
Eloise Greenfield
Mos Def
Lucille Clifton
Oscar Brown Jr.
Tupac Shakur
Maya Angelou
Queen Latifah
Nikki Grimes
Walter Dean Myers
Common and, of course, Nikki Giovanni

Poems Include:
Ego Tripping
Rapper's Delight
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Hey Mama
Ham 'N' Eggs
Everything Is Everything
Ladies First


"With its archival recordings of poems read by the poets themselves, [Hip Hop] reminds everyone that poetry springs from an oral tradition."
Publishers Weekly

"This is the way to get children interested in reading and loving poetry. ... A great book for both teachers and parents."
— Valerie Lewis, owner of Hicklebee's children's bookstore

"The poems, the artwork, the CD...all complement each other to create a wonderful experience."
—Becky Laney, Becky Laney's Books blog

"Love this book. I think it is a K-8 must-have for classrooms and libraries. Like I said it is packed and it may be (at first) intimidating to young readers. But, once they hear some of the audio, spend time with the illustrations, and experience some of the poetry, I think it will become a favorite."
—Franki Sibberson, A Year of Reading blog

"Hip Hop Speaks to Children is a wonderfully composed collection of poems from writers like Eloise Greenfield to late rapper and poet, Tupac Shakur. ... Whether you read poetry or you hear it in a rap song, Giovanni's genius endeavor will inspire children of all ages to have fun while listening to poetry. Rap is poetry, right?"
—Amy Bowllan, Amy Bowllan's Blog (a School Library Journal Blog)

"I highly recommend this one for all collections. If the title didn't include the word "children" it'd be an excellent book all the way to high school. My coworkers and I are already talking about doing a Hip Hop poetry story time for our elementary school kids."
—Jennifer Rothschild, Biblio File blog

"This is an incredibly powerful, beautiful and important book. Both the book and CD are stellar in quality and diversity. The artwork is amazing and I find myself pulling it out of the shelf over and over for just one more re-read. The grandchildren (ages 3 and 5) love it as well and ask to hear the CD while they pore over the pages and take breaks prancing around the room and singing to the beat. They KNOW all the poems in the book and learned them in a relatively short time, which I attribute to the power of the beat, and all the artists; the poets, the illustrators, the singers and spoken word artists. What an astounding thing when a book moves children so that they LEARN - quickly and enjoyably. This book is for all ages and I can't recommend it highly enough."
—Gina Ruiz, Blogcritics Magazine

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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. " - Booklist

"The variety of poetic forms and performance styles...makes this collection an excellent source of material not found together elsewhere." - Kirkus

"The beats would make any kid want to get up and dance, and I think the idea of incorporating music with the poetry will keep kids interested." - Savvy Verse & Wit

Publishers Weekly

Like its companion volume, Poetry Speaks to Children, this eclectic collection is accompanied by a lively CD; the focus is on hip-hop, broadly defined as "poetry with a beat." In practice, Giovanni's definition yields a diverse crop of poems chiefly by African-Americans. Not all the works have a strong beat: the quiet lyricism of Hope Anita Smith has little in common with the pronounced rhythms of the Sugarhill Gang. The volume includes not only contemporary artists like Mos Def and Queen Latifah but poets from the Harlem Renaissance, W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Elizabeth Swados. Even an edited version of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is offered. Altogether, there are 51 selections from 42 poets, with about 30 performances on the CD, some original to the collection. The illustrations, by six different artists, compete for attention in a crowded design; readers may be better off availing themselves of the CD, which, with its archival recordings of poems read by the poets themselves, reminds everyone that poetry springs from an oral tradition. Ages 6-up. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

School Library Journal

Gr 4-8

This anthology highlights the use of rhythm and vernacular in hip-hop, rap, and African-American poetry. The 51 pieces-which also include a passage from Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech-use gospel rhythms, "hambone" rhythms (which Giovanni explains in her informative introduction), jazz and blues rhythms, and language from the fields and the city streets. Artists range from Langston Hughes to Kanye West, from Eloise Greenfield to Queen Latifah. Much of the subject matter focuses on hope, self-esteem, respect for the past, and determination to make a better future. A few selections are more playful, like an excerpt from "Principal's Office" by Young MC. The accompanying CD enables readers to hear many of the pieces spoken or performed by the artists. Meanwhile, a team of five illustrators provides colorful, lively pictures that add atmosphere and personality (without a lot of depth, however). This volume is much denser than it first appears, and will provide classroom teachers with a substantial amount of material. The fact that an important historical writer like James Weldon Johnson appears in the same book as contemporary musician Lauryn Hill may help some kids see the older writers with a fresh eye, and may also introduce today's artists to teachers and librarians. Granted, not all of the rap and/or hip-hop verses have the concise nature of what has been considered "real" poetry, and, in this context, some of them work better in audio than on the printed page. Still, this is an interesting, worthwhile collection.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL

Kirkus Reviews

The subtitle is more descriptive of the content of this engaging book than the title. There is a wealth of material, ranging from classic poems by Langston Hughes (several of them read by Hughes on the accompanying CD), Lucille Clifton, Eloise Greenfield, Maya Angelou, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson and others, to modern hip-hop and rap. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is also included, both in the book and on the CD, with a performance in response by Giovanni and two of the advisory editors. Hope Anita Smith's recitation of her "Audition" is quiet and hauntingly beautiful. All of the poems emphasize the beat and draw on African-American tradition; they are richly and effectively illustrated by a corps of young illustrators whose biographical sketches are appended. Listening to the CD completes the experience. The variety of poetic forms and performance styles (sometimes elucidated on the CD, as well is in Giovanni's introduction) makes this collection an excellent source of material not found together elsewhere. (Poetry anthology. 7-12)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402210488
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Edition description: Book and CD
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 149,611
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nikki Giovanni

National Book Award nominee, Spoken Word Grammy nominee and New York Times best-selling author Nikki Giovanni leads an advisory board comprised of leading hip hop poet Willie Perdomo, Howard University professor Tony Medina, and music specialist Michele Scott.

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Table of Contents

Artist / PoetTitle Track
A Tribe Called QuestHam 'N' Eggs
Aesop RockNo Regrets
Angela ShannonFirst Signature
Antwone FisherWho Will Cry for the Little Boy?
Benjamin ZephaniahFor Words
Calef Brown Funky Snowman
Charles R. Smith Allow me to Introduce Myself
Claude McKay If We Must Die
Elizabeth SwadosMe
Eloise GreenfieldBooks
Eloise GreenfieldOh, Words
Eloise GreenfieldThings
Gary SotoMusic for Fun and Profit
Gil Scott-HeronI think I'll Call it Morning
Gwendolyn BrooksAloneness
Gwendolyn Brooks We Real Cool
Hope Anita SmithAudition
Ja JahannesIf We Forget
Jacqueline Woodson Hip Hop Rules the World
James BerryTaking Action
James BerryPeople Equal
James Weldon JohnsonThe Creation
Jill ScottIt's Love
Kanye WestHey Mama
Langston Hughes Harlem Night Song
Langston HughesThe Negro Speaks of Rivers
Langston Hughes Dream Boogie
Langston Hughes Dream Variations
Lauryn HillEverything is Everything
Lucille Clifton why some people be mad at me sometimes
Martin Luther King, Jr.I Have A Dream
Maya AngelouHarlem Hopscotch
Mos Def Umi Says
Nikki Giovanni Ego Tripping
Nikki Giovanni The Rosa Parks
Nikki Giovanni The Girls in the Circle
Nikki Grimes Doubtless
Oscar Brown, jr Dat Dere
Paul Laurence DunbarWe Wear the Mask
Pedro Pietri Love Poem for My People
Queen Latifah Ladies First
Ruth FormanWaitin on Summer
Sterling Brown Long Track Blues
StetsasonicTalkin' All That Jazz
Sugarhill GangRapper's Delight
Tupac Shakur The Rose that Grew from Concrete
W.E.B. DuBois The Smoke King
Walter Dean MeyersJimmy Wall, 14, Boy Evangelist
William Waring Cuney No Images
Young MC Principal's Office

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2008

    One of the Best Children's Books this Year!

    Hip hop is more than gangsta rap. Hip hop is rhythm. Hip hop has soul. Hip hop will be here forever. Giovanni captures the essence of hip hop in this collection of ¿poetry with a beat¿. The poems are skillfully illustrated. There are over 30 performances recited by the poet on the accompanying CD. The poets include: A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West, Sugarhill Gang, James Berry, Queen Latifah, Nikki Grimes, Jill Scott, Mos Def, Common, Gwendolyn Brooks, and many more. Young and old alike will identify with the poems that flow like lyrics on top of beats that will make you groove. A few favorite poems are: Dat Dere, The Rosa Parks, and Hip Hop Rules the World. There are also a few excerpts from some of our favorite rappers. This is definitely a book for everyone. There are more than 50 poems written by 42 different poets along with 30 performances on the CD. Share your past with your kids, by giving your children the opportunity to hear real lyrics and experience poetry at its finest. This promises to be the BEST Children¿s books of the YEAR! Deltareviewer

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2008

    Inspirational and Educational!

    This book is definitely an inspirational book that can be passed down from generation to generation, teaching children and adults on how ¿Hip Hop¿ is a celebration of poetry! I truly enjoyed the colorful diverse illustrations in this book and listening to the audio CD that incorporates Hip Hop, Jazz and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr¿s ¿ I had a dream¿ speech. This is an excellent resource for any child to look back into history and learn how ¿Hip Hop¿ has changed our music generation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    At the opening of the book Nikki Giovanni's introduction offers

    At the opening of the book Nikki Giovanni's introduction offers the history of the "dawn"/development of poetry put to rhythm. This introduction is worthwhile reading and rather enlightening and informative, and a great vocabulary builder. "Hip Hop Speaks to Children" is a wonderful collection of various artists' celebrated works in poetry and song. In this youth inspired book are wonderful illustrations for each poem/ art in written form to capture the young and young at heart. **This would be a great addition to a music classroom's library and to be used in teaching music at school or at home.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    Great Learning Tool

    I gifted this book to a teacher that I work with. She has several students that were having a lot of trouble with reading and writing in general, and poetry was a subject they had no interest in. The first day this book was presented to the class, these students were hooked. She introduced it as a book about rap. When it was explained further that rap and poetry have many over laps these students were now interested in the how's and why's of that thought. Of the three students needing help one was so interested that their reading level went up and they took an interest in writing. I highly recommend this book for teachers, educators, parents, and anyone else that works with kids. It is ingaging and creative with out talking down to children.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    Great Addition to Your Library!

    I bought this book for my then three year-old son. This book comes with a CD. He absolutely loves the CD. The best part about that is that he is now reciting poetry! I thought that this book/CD combo would introduce him to hip-hop music. It does this - sort of. It introduces kids to the rhythym of hip-hop and early influences in hip-hop. It is more of an introduction to poetry and African-American history. Some of the songs are just snippets and not the whole song, which I don't love, but my son doesn't seem to mind. He likes the rhyming and rhythym of it all. I do love that Dr. King's On The Mountain/I Have A Dream speech is recorded on the CD. I like giving my son an informal intro to that history. I have also bought this book/CD combo as a gift and it was well received. Overall, it is a positive addition to our library and learning.

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  • Posted May 10, 2009

    Yes it does, but this isn't it

    This a book of poetry pure and simple. Some of it is indeed in the style of spoken word/urban poetry but for the most part it is simply illustrated poetry. There are very few tracks on the included CD that actually sound even remotely hip hop. Despite some hip hop greats being listed and indeed heard, this book leaves you very disappointed in the hip hop aspect. I am actually a bit upset that I bought it. As a spoken word artist myself, I am a lover of poetry, but this book leaves a lot to be desired. It is mostly a book of urban nursery rhymes. don't waste your money. Check it out from the library instead if you can.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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