The beat was bumping and the rhymes they did flow as the Pickerington Public Library and Brian Holland teamed up June 21 for a summer program geared at fostering learning and good behavior through hip-hop music.

There were but three rules for youngsters that wanted to put it down with Holland at the Hip-Hop Academics program held at the library's main branch.

First, they were told they had to have fun.

Second, every time they heard Holland -- a first-grade teacher at Tussing Elementary School -- say, "Yo, yo, yo," they had to put their hands up.

And lastly: "This is my favorite rule," Holland said. "You have to have more fun."

Judging by the call-and-response shouts from the capacity crowd of elementary-school-aged children in the library's conference room, as well as the ample instances of getting down and busting moves, the edicts were roundly applied and followed.

The event was a sub-activity of the "Libraries Rock!" Summer Reading Club programming. It started with "Animals Rock!" the week of June 3 and includes weeks dedicated to learning about sharks (which started June 24), history (starting July 1), games (starting July 8), movies (starting July 15) and the library as a whole (starting July 22).

The week of June 15, was "Music Rocks!" and showcased a series of events for kids using music in a variety of ways to help them read and get excited about learning, as well as to reinforce positive behaviors such as respect for others and treating people kindly.

Holland was the master of ceremonies June 21, and Hip-Hop Academics clearly was a smash hit.

As a beat-box set the tempo, Holland threw down rhymes and asked those in attendance to stand on their feet and learn lyrics such as, "Good afternoon, everybody. Our day's begun, and it's time to have some learning fun. So stand up on your feet, throw your hands in the air, open your mouth and say, 'Oh yeah.' "

That particular jam went on with, "You're going to learn about respect, you see, and the importance of honesty. We're following the rules and getting along, and every day we're going to rap this song."

Another dealt with the proper hygiene, as children shouted "Ooh yuck!" on cue between Hollands rhymes of, "Wash your hands. Don't even think about touching me, man. There's dirt and germs all over this place. So wash your hands, just in case."

This summer is the first time the library has offered Hip-Hop Academics as part of the Summer Reading Program.

Holland was selected, in part, because of his role at Tussing. He also belongs to the Ohio Alliance for Art Education and frequently uses hip-hop and rap music to encourage lifelong learning among students.

Colleen Bauman, the library's community relations coordinator said the library's Youth Services staff frequently partners with the Pickerington Local School District to foster learning and the project with Holland was a good fit for Music Rocks! Week.

"As educators, our youth services staff recognizes that there are many different and diverse ways of learning," Bauman said.

"Programs like Hip-Hop Academics offer children an opportunity to share self-expression while having fun in an artistic, musical, physical way."

The free event was designed for children but open to kids of all ages. Library officials said 78 kids and 29 adults participated.

Library Director Tony Howard said Holland was selected to lead Hip-Hop Academics "because of his skills, experience and passion" for education through music.

"It's an added bonus that he also works for one of our community partners, (the school district)," Howard said. We encouraged kids to come to this program because it was going to be extremely fun.

"The subtle way Brian encourages a love of learning is beneficial for every child."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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