Tuesday, February 20

Ghetto Rhymes

via Crunk + Disorderly:

A Baltimore mother and daughter joined forces to pen a book of nursery rhymes titled Ghetto Rhymes - A Collection of Traditional Nursery Rhymes with a Ghetto Twist. The book takes traditional nursery rhyme characters and forces them to deal with such inner-city issues as welfare, unemployment, food stamps and getting by day-to-day in the hood.

In Ghetto Rhymes, everybody's favorite incredible edible egg Humpty is harassed and arrested by the cops causing his untimely demise, Miss Muffit has 17 kids and a dead beat babydaddy and Mary takes her little lamb to the butcher. Hey, a nigga gotta eat one way or another.

I don't knock these ladies for trying.

Traditional nursery rhymes tell gruesome tales while sounding sweet, so is it really a problem for these to be upfront about how life is? Will it narrow the scope of literature the children are interested in later on? Will it just be something bittersweet, something to make them laugh at the reality? And do most people in these situations have the time, or want to take the time, to read to their kids?
In my grad classes, we have endless debates about the appropriateness of books by Zane, Eric Jerome Dickey, Vicki Stringer and the like, in our own classrooms. Lots of my classmates don't feel that our students should be reading these books because they're centered around emotional manipulation and materialism. But when so many of our students don't or can't read at all, do we really have the right to tell them what they should or shouldn't be reading? We can point them to Toni Morrison, ZZ Packer and Octavia Butler all we want, or even Walter Dean Myers and Jacqueline Woodson, but time and time again they tell us they're aren't interested. And being forced to read what bores you - or worse yet, being told what interests you isn't valid - pushes many away from reading altogether.

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