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Reviewed by Vernita Naylor for Readers' Favorite
Gil Scott-Heron, Marvin Gaye, and Tupac were all philosophers of their times. Each held their audience captive with their spoken words of politics, injustice, and living life in poverty and urban communities. Today they are still seen as classic gems as either their music or words are being sampled for music tailored to the next generation. When I saw the title Just Like Music: Social Emotional Learning Inspired by Hip-Hop by David Spellmon Jr, I had to read it because I immediately thought of Marvin Gaye singing Just Like which is the inspiration behind this book's title. Music is a universal language and has the ability to speak and connect in many ways. To empower, stimulate, motivate and encourage students, Spellmon was compelled to use the lyrics from Hip-Hop music. In this book, the author chooses songs from cities that have influenced music styles from Lagos, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Harlem, and Detroit to Los Angeles to deliver a powerful yet profound message. He not only breaks down the lyrics but displays how this ties to one of the five Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) core competencies along with a Lesson Plan for that specific city which, of course, can be tailored to your specific needs and used anywhere.
I fully enjoyed reading Just Like Music by David Spellmon Jr due to his creative strategy for improving the education system, particularly within urban communities. Immediately my wheels were turning, and my excitement was energized during the author's illustrative introduction with the following three questions posed: Who Needs Change? Who Wants To Change? Who Wants To Lead Change? Here the author begins to not only give statistical background information but offers solutions. As the author states, with adequate support, the life, educational outcome, and the future of the student improve as well while creating a pathway for social long-standing learned development patterns. Throughout the world, teachers are usually challenged in interacting and bridging the gap with their students because of their inability to connect. This tried, tested, and approved way to work effectively with students is a must. Highly recommended.