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Friday, January 8, 2021

Teacher Celebrates Black Historical Figures and Millionaires with Nursery Rhyme Book

Audrey Muhammad, teacher and author of Black Nursery Rhymes

Nationwide — “I was shocked after I visited a first-grade classroom and asked the students to name the first Black president,” said author Audrey Muhammad. “I was surprised that many of the students said, ‘Martin Luther King.’” Granted, they were 6-year olds and Barack Obama was President over 12 years ago, but there had to be a way to help keep our history at the forefront. Why not make rhymes about each? This is exactly what Mrs. Muhammad did. After revising and updating her children’s book, she now has nursery rhymes like “Off to White House,” a rhyme about Obama.

Since many adults grew up with nursery rhymes and can recite rhymes like “Mary had a Little Lamb,” at the drop of a hat, these nursery rhymes were written to be a fun formula to foster love for Black role models including Black millionaires, entrepreneurs, and historical figures. The new Rhymes of the Times: Black Nursery Rhymes book written by Mrs. Muhammad, a former high school teacher, reads like a “Who’s Who” of African American History with nursery rhymes about Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, 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 book also helps express cultural pride.

“Growing up I struggled to appreciate my hair and my history. My hair always appeared too “nappy” and Black history was too negative in my view,” said Audrey Muhammad. Interestingly enough, “Pretty Little Black Girl,” the first nursery rhyme Muhammad wrote, encouraged little Black girls to love their hair. It reads “Pretty Little Black Girl, smart and brave, 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 18-year old daughter, Hasana, grew up reading her mother’s nursery rhymes. “The nursery rhymes impacted me in that they helped me to appreciate the way I look and my heritage,” said Hasana Muhammad. “The rhyme ‘Pretty Little Black Girl’ taught me to appreciate myself. The book taught me about other important figures who were inventors and pioneers. It teaches things like how Garrett Morgan invented the gas mask and the stoplight. In the public school system, we don’t learn much on black history, and when we do, it’s all slavery.”

Audrey Muhammad hopes that the Rhymes of the Times book will give children a new view about Black people just as the movie, Black Panther, gave the world a refreshing and impressive image of Black culture The book includes vibrant illustrations that complement the musical rhymes, making them fun to read aloud. It is her desire that Rhymes of the Times will become a staple in households around the world… one rhyme at a time.

The book can be purchased at BlackNurseryRhymes.com. Free 2021 calendars are included with all orders made before Feb. 7th.

For more information on book-signings, virtual storytelling events, speaking engagements, or interviews, contact: Audrey Muhammad at virtuetoday@gmail.com or call (510) 815-4591.