By Jennifer Darnell

I love books, especially children’s books. I love reading quietly by myself or out loud to my story time friends. Last September, the artist Ludacris went on a radio show and rapped “Llama Llama, Red Pajama.” Since then, my approach to reading children’s literature has changed. Luckily enough, I was approached to create a hip hop themed storytime as part of the AYoHH initiative, and it has helped to help grow my hip hop knowledge and spread my story time wings.

Story Rhymes is a weekly podcast that focuses on early literacy tips, EVPL resources, and includes a book performed in a hip hop style. Students from Signature School have graciously volunteered their time and talent to create beats and perform the books. They are an enthusiastic group and many have discovered or enhanced their talents. I so look forward to seeing how this group will continue to grow their talents as this project progresses. We focus on one book per month, because repetition is a key tool in becoming comfortable with more words and expanding your vocabulary. In addition to helping expand vocabulary, repetition is helpful with learning how words fit and flow together. And having a good flow in hip hop is key.

This podcast, as mentioned before, focuses a large part of our time on early literacy: Singing, Writing, Reading, Talking, and Playing. These early literacy skills go hand in hand with the 4 main pillars of hip hop: rapping (also called MCing or emceeing); DJing, which is making music with record players and DJ mixers; b-boying/b-girling/breakdancing (movement/dance); and graffiti art (visual art). By combining these elements, we are creating a unique approach to story time.

When brainstorming this project, we envisioned it taking several different shapes. Could it be a traveling storytime, where we go to pre-schools in the area? What if we incorporated these elements into our traditional storytimes? Ultimately, we wanted to provide a story time that families could enjoy together at any time. We understand that not everyone is always able to come to the library. We also realize the importance of hip hop on the air waves. Hip hop is the most listened to genre of music today, yet most of the children’s performers lean their musical stylings towards pop inspired tunes. Thanks to performers such as Grammy award winning Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, also known as the King of Kid-Hop or supergroup Dino 5, featuring Prince Paul and members of the Roots, Jurassic 5, Digable Planets, and De la Soul, this narrative is changing.

My hope with this project is that kids and parents can explore new books, music, and tools on how to interact with each other and the world around them.

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Jennifer Darnell
Assistant Experience Manager

Jennifer Darnell

Jennifer lives every week like it's shark week. She loves going on adventures, hanging out with her cat Holden Pawfield, quoting 30 Rock, and working at EVPL.

Our Summer 2018