Hip-hoppers write children's books -- LL Cool J and Doug E. Fresh write parables for the under-10 set

By Gary Susman
Updated August 26, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

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Who says rap is all about sex, violence, profanity, and poor spelling and grammar? Not textbook publisher Scholastic, which announced plans for a new series of rapper-penned books for 4- to 10-year-olds, the New York Times reports. Called ”Hip Kid Hop,” the series’ kicks off with two titles, by LL Cool J and Doug E. Fresh. Of course, the books come with CDs so kids can rhyme along with the authors and their backing tracks.

LL Cool J’s edition, a basketball story called ”And the Winner Is…”, is a parable about winning and losing with grace. ”Hip-hop’s always reached out to kids,” he told the Times, noting that there’s more to rap than gangsta rap. ”If you look at the last 10 big albums it might seem ironic. But when I look at the history of this music it’s always had a lot of positivity.”

”Hip-hop has gone through a lot of changes,” said Doug E. Fresh, whose story, ”Think Again,” is about two kids who overcome racial antagonism to become friends. ”It’s a powerful force in a lot of kid’s lives, and it can definitely help kids learn to read.”

How effective a reading tool these books will be is uncertain, since they use slang and metaphor in ways perhaps better suited to song lyrics than textbooks. But Scholastic senior editor Liza Baker told the Times, ”Hip-hop has the best way of turning language on its head. We think kids will respond. This is the music kids are listening to.”

Episode Recaps

Well, sort of. Doug E. Fresh hasn’t released an album since before most of ”Hip Kid Hop”’s prospective readers were born. No word yet on other authors — bet the preschool set can’t wait to read Eminem’s book.

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