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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

New Nursery Rhymes for Today’s Black Youth

— Learn More in 20 Pages Than Most Will in 20 Years! —

Rhymes of the Times by Audrey Muhammad

Bookcover and author, Audrey Muhammad

Raleigh, NC — Do you remember the nursery rhymes “Humpty Dumpty” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb?” Most adults grew up with these nursery rhymes along with others and remember each line. The “new nursery rhymes,” produced by the editor of Virtue Today Magazine, almost guarantees that children will “learn more in 20 pages than some will learn in 20 years.” The book reads like a “who’s who” of African American History with nursery rhymes about: Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Garrett Morgan, Muhammad Ali, Queen N’Zinga and many more. If you don’t recognize some of these names, you will after reading this book. The author, Audrey Muhammad, hopes that Rhymes of the Times: Black Nursery Rhymes will revolutionize the way children around the country learn black history and feel about themselves just as the movie, Black Panther, has given the world a refreshing and impressive image of black people.

Reflecting on the nursery rhymes like “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” that she read during her own childhood, the author who is an educator, decided to write her own rhymes with the intent to express cultural pride and highlight history in a fun and memorable way, especially for Black youth. “Growing up I struggled appreciating my hair and my history. My hair always appeared too “nappy” and black history was “too negative” in my view.” Interesting enough, the first nursery rhyme Audrey wrote was entitled, “Pretty Little Black Girl,” which encourages little Black girls to “Be proud of the pretty hair that God gave; you’re a pretty little Black girl, smart and brave.” Soon, she developed a meaningful collection of nursery rhymes that she would be proud to read to her young daughter. Today, those rhymes are in a new colorful format. Her fifteen year old daughter, Hasana Muhammad, said this about growing up with her mother’s “black nursery rhymes”: “The nursery rhymes impacted me in that they helped me to appreciate the way I look and my heritage. As a young black child, I’m set apart from everyone else for how I look with Kinky or curly hair in braids and berets, big lips, brown skin, etc. And in society the black aesthetic is looked down upon. So the rhyme “Pretty Little Black Girl” taught me to appreciate myself. It taught me about other important figures who were inventors and pioneers. It teaches things like how Garrett Morgan invented the gas mask and the stop light. In the public school system, we don’t dwell much on black history, and when we do, it’s all slavery.”

In this uplifting story book, which is illustrated by Kofi Johnson, Muhammad introduces the concepts of self-esteem and perseverance to young children through rhymes like “Woman on The Bus.” “When I would do storytelling at elementary schools,” she recalls, “I remember how excited the children were to guess who I was talking about in this rhyme: ‘There was a woman who sat on a bus, she didn’t talk much or cause much fuss. One day she was asked to give up her seat, though she was quite tired…..’ Before I could finish the line, the children were raising their hands saying, “Rosa Parks!”

The book delivers the rhymes through vibrant illustrations that compliment the musical rhymes, making them fun to read aloud. Mrs. Muhammad, who acted in high school and college, has a storytelling style that is fun and educational. Rhymes of the Times is a pivotal and much needed update to the stories and rhymes of yesteryear as it not only pays homage to our heroes and leaders of the past, but provides relevance for our up and coming young people. It even honors a few modern day heroes with the rhymes, “Think Like Steve,” “Walk by Faith and Master Your Mind,” and “Oprah, Oprah!” which honors comedian/author Steve Harvey, millionaire/entrepreneur Joe L. Dudley, and billionaire and media guru, Oprah Winfrey respectively.

Born and raised in Ohio, Audrey Muhammad has dedicated nearly 25 years in education as an English instructor for high school and college students. It is her desire that Rhymes of the Times will become a staple in households and communities for children and adults alike to enjoy for years to come.

Rhymes of the Times: Black Nursery Rhymes can be purchased via Amazon.com or by visiting www.virtuetodaymag.com. Search: #NurseryRhymes #BlackHistoryMonth, #BlackPanther, #Oprah #Steve Harvey, #MartinLutherKingJr.

For more information on book-signings, storytelling events, speaking engagements or interviews, contact: Broyny Vitatoe, Publicist, 419-215-8653, email: rhymesofthetimes1@gmail.com

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