Nikki Giovanni, Kanye West Poetry Book: Hip hop Speaks to Children

Time sure flies... Christmas and Kwanzaa again are around the corner. If you'll be making a list and checking it twice for a child, here's a cool gift that's excellent edutainment for little ones. It's "Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry With a Beat," a picture book edited by famed poet Nikki Giovanni.

Extra nice is that the book comes with a companion CD featuring some of hip-hop's most high: Mos Def, Queen Latifah, and Kanye West to name a few. In fact, A Tribe Called Quest rules the mic for a funky rendition of "Green Eggs 'n Ham," which Q-Tip performs. (Why do I hear parents muttering the Dr. Seuss jazz the Q-Tip way, with more zest than their kids?)

Maya Angelou and other African American literary figures joined Giovanni to make "Hip Hop Speaks to Children" a real powerhouse. It ends with Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" prose. This alone makes it a hot gift I'll be giving: It is worrisome that some African American children don't have a clear picture of why they have a day off from school, thanks to Dr. King. (One told me that Dr. King was a basketball player [my 2006 humor essay about this].)

Nice to learn, too, that an African American work has reached #3 on the New York Times best-sellers list in the children's books category.

To read all about Giovanni's latest poetry gift, check this New York Times article and this Nikki Giovanni interview on NPR. You can also get book info here on

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