‘Reading With A Rapper’ looks to expand to school districts across Texas

HOUSTON – How do you keep children engaged with education when they’re so easily distracted by social media, smartphones and pop culture? The founders of a local non-profit think they have the answer -- blending culture into the classroom.

It’s called “Reading With A Rapper.”

The non-profit teaches students how to read and write through rap lyrics.

“It’s not so much about what we’re teaching our kids but how we’re teaching them, how they receive the information. These kids are literally learning on a different frequency,” said Jarren Small, co-founder of Legends Do Live, the non-profit behind the program.

Part of what makes the environment so unique is the environment of the classroom itself is changed, from the lighting to how students receive the music.

“When they’re breaking down these lyrics as they listen to them, they are starting to see the repetition, the hyperbole, metaphors and personifications,” Small said.

Small partnered with a group of Alief Independent School District teachers to create the eight-week program, with the goal of creating something that was engaging but challenging. Since it’s inception in 2018, Small has been on a mission to make “Reading With A Rapper” much more mainstream.

Right before the pandemic, organizers launched a new campaign called “Turn Texas Yellow” to get the program in as many schools in Texas as they can by raising money. Yellow is a color that’s synonymous with the program.

“I think that’s the whole point of why we created education in schools in the first place. To want to make kids happy about learning,” Small said.

If you’d like to learn more about “Reading With A Rapper” or donate to the “Turn Texas Yellow” Campaign, click here.

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