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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Rap n’ read

August 1, 2017

Bedtime books come in all styles, sizes, and mediums; some rhyme, others tell stories. Some do both. In other words, there’s something for everyone. Add the sharing and books become even more individualized.

One day not long ago, my son turned up the volume on his phone so I could hear his music. Ok, I said, it’s a rap. He told me to listen carefully. When I did, I hooted with delight. Kid Ink, one of Nick’s favorite rappers, was performing the words to Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama Red Pajama (Viking).

When I did a brief online search for a video of it, not only did I find Kid Ink in a radio station booth “freestyling”, I also found another rendition of the same book read (rapped really) by another contemporary artist, Ludacris.

The simple rhythm of Llama Llama Red Pajama is obvious. But there’s a rhythm to reading aloud almost anything. “There [is] a melody [when pitch goes up and down] …. There [is] musical phrasing and color… emphasis in the right places. There [is] a rhythmic timing — you could more-or-less clap your hands to the words as you read aloud.”

True of almost any book but it’s fun to interpret a book in a distinctive way.  Just like Kid Ink and Ludicris did with Llama Llama Red Pajama.

I don’t know if either man has children with whom to share this, but their pleasure in Llama Llama Red Pajama is apparent. It reminded me that regardless of what book is shared with a child, it’s an experience for the adult as well as for children. The more the adult likes the material, the more likely they are to share it with enthusiasm; and that pleasure is contagious.

(And thanks to Nick Brennan for introducing me to Kid Ink!)

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"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb