Monday, February 23, 2009

Review: Hip Hop Speaks to Children

The tagline of Hip Hop Speaks to Children describes the book perfectly - A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat. Edited by Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by a team of five illustrators, this treasury is a feast of color and sound.

An audio CD is enclosed that features a range of poets reading their work from Langston Hughes to Queen Latifah. There are so many excellent poems, it is hard to choose a favorite. Often when you read poetry, you wonder if you are reading exactly what the poet intended. One of my favorites, "Books" by Eloise Greenfield is read by the author in the exact way I imagined it would be.

I've got
books on the bunk bed
books on the chair
books on the couch
And every old where
But I want more books
just can't get enough
want more books about
All kinds of stuff, like

Jackie's troubles. Raymond's joys
Rabbits, kangaroos, Girls and Boys
Mountains, valleys, Winter, spring
Camp fires, vampires

Every old thing
I want to
Lie down on my bunk bed!

Lean back in
my chair
Curl up on the
And every old

From recognized and honored poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and W.E.B. DuBois to today's musical artists such as Tupac Shakur and Stetsasonic, the range of experience captured by these African American writers is varied, rich, and deeply personal.

The book and CD culminate in Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech which we've heard much of recently during Barack Obama's election. It had been awhile since I'd heard the speech almost in its entirety. It gave me shivers. It was followed by a wonderful performance piece by Nikki Giovanni, Oni Lasana and Val Gray Ward based on the same speech.

This is a book that deserves to be pulled off the shelf again and again. The layers of meaning to these poems will unfold as a child grows older and more sophisticated. The book and CD together make a wonderful resource for home, school or library. It is truly one of the best books I've read this year.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Celebrate I Love Libraries Month

February is "I love libraries" month. Of course for me, every month is "I love libraries month," but I'm happy to have a special occasion to celebrate the wonderful work that school and public libraries do throughout the country.

This photo from Lester Public Library in Two Rivers, Wisconsin (courtesy of Flickr) is called "Taking a Break at the Library." First of all, how wonderful is it that they have stuffed animals for kids to love on at this library, but secondly it's a terrific image pairing books and stuffed animals - kids get the message that they can love both.

Most book lovers have never met a library or a bookstore they didn't like. As the economic downturn has accelerated in these last few months, circulation and visitation of local public libraries is at an all-time high. Folks are turning to their local libraries for entertainment as well as access to information on job opportunities and skill development. Ironically, during these boom days in public libraries, funding for public libraries is close to an all-time low.

Here is a fab site that provides lots of ideas as to how we can all support our community libraries. And here is the "I Love Libraries" site supported by the American Library Association. Both sites have a wealth of information about books, authors, illustrators, bloggers, and libraries.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Poetry Friday - Emily Dickinson #657

I dwell in Possibility -
A fairer House than Prose -
More numerous of Windows -
Superior - for Doors -

Of Chambers as the Cedars -
Impregnable of Eye -
And for an Everlasting Roof -
The Gambrels of the Sky -

Of Visitors - the - fairest -
For Occupation - This -
The spreading wide my narrow Hands -
To gather Paradise -

For more verses for Poetry Friday, visit Wild Rose Reader. Enjoy.