Children's books in hip-hop

Publishing

September 01, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

There was a time when some popular hip-hop artists rhymed about settling scores with a Glock.

But now that the music has gone mainstream, LL Cool J, the man behind the 1990 hit single "Mama Said Knock You Out," and Doug E. Fresh, who is otherwise known as the human beat box, are hard at work at a different kind of rhyming. They are writing children's books.

"My goal is to become the modern-day Dr. Seuss," Doug E. Fresh said.

The books, published by Scholastic and scheduled to be released next month, are morality tales and stories about developing personal strength. The series is called Hip Kid Hop and is geared toward readers age 4 to 10. The books come with read-along CDs that play catchy hip-hop music and rhymes.

Karyn Rachtman, a Hollywood music consultant, went to Scholastic with the idea for the series.

"The first time I heard hip-hop, I was mesmerized by this unique style of poetry set to music," Rachtman said in a statement. "Twenty years later, when I saw my young children rapping along to the latest hip-hop hits and memorizing all the lyrics, I realized how a rapper's unique form of storytelling is a unique way to reach children."

It remains to be seen whether the series will help children learn to read. The authors use slang and take license with the language in ways that may be difficult for children to comprehend.

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