Since its October 2008 release, Hip Hop Speaks to Children, edited by Virginia Tech University Distinguished Professor of English Nikki Giovanni, has danced in the bestseller list for children and won a National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award.
Hip Hop, noted as a lively celebration of poetry with a beat, features 51 selections from 42 poets and performers and was one of 30 entries out of 375 awarded the gold award. It appeared on the Times best-seller list for four weeks, peaking at number three.
An audio CD that accompanies the collection includes 30 performances, some recited by the artists who created them. Hip Hop Speaks to Children includes rhymes and rhythms from Queen Latifah to Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes to A Tribe Called Quest. In addition, part of Martin Luther King's original "I Have a Dream" speech, is followed by a remarkable live performance of the speech by Giovanni, Oni Lasana, and Val Gray Ward.
Giovanni has earned a five-star rating for her discussion of Hip Hop Speaks to Children on YouTube.
Publishers Weekly noted, "With its archival recordings of poems read by the poets themselves, [Hip Hop] reminds everyone that poetry springs from an oral tradition."
"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,” noted Amy Bowllan in a School Library Journal Blog.
Gian Ruiz, of Blogritics Magazine, offered the following review: "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.”
The author of 30 books, Giovanni won a 2008 American Book Award for The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni 1968-1998. Early in her career, Giovanni was dubbed the “Princess of Black Poetry,” and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing she has come to be called both a “National Treasure” and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey’s twenty-five “Living Legends.”
The winner of four NAACP Image Awards, Giovanni’s honors have been steady and plentiful throughout her career. The recipient of some twenty-five honorary degrees, she has been named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle Magazine, The Ladies Home Journal, and Ebony Magazine. She was tapped for the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame and named an Outstanding Woman of Tennessee. Giovanni has also received Governor’s Awards from both Tennessee and Virginia.
She was the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, and she has also been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and has received Life Membership and Scroll from The National Council of Negro Women. A member of PEN, she was honored for her life and career by The History Makers. She has received the keys to more than two dozen cities. A scientist who admires her work even named a new species of bat he discovered for her.