Simon B. Rhymin' (Simon B. Rhymin' #1)

by Dwayne Reed (Author)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

A humorous and heartwarming bounce-to-the-beat underdog story about a young rapper whose rhymes help bring his community together, from America's favorite rapping teacher.

As featured on Good Morning America!

Eleven-year-old Simon Barnes dreams of becoming a world-famous rapper that everyone calls Notorious D.O.G. But for now, he's just a Chicago fifth grader who's small for his age and afraid to use his voice.

Simon prefers to lay low at school and at home, even though he's constantly spitting rhymes in his head. But when his new teacher assigns the class an oral presentation on something that affects their community, Simon must face his fears.

With some help from an unexpected ally and his neighborhood crew, will Simon gain the confidence to rap his way to an A and prove that one kid can make a difference in his 'hood?

Dwayne Reed is a Chicago teacher, whose viral back-to-school music video "Welcome to the 4th Grade" took the internet by storm. His debut novel, Simon B. Rhymin' , inspires young readers everywhere to use their voice to create change within their communities.

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School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up--Though fifth grader Simon is quiet, he dreams of following in the footsteps of other iconic Chicago rappers. But Simon starts to panic when his new teacher assigns a presentation, and he's the first to go. With the help of his friends, he will find a way to bring his inner rapper out and showcase his talents to make the grade. Readers will find the format of this book engaging. Reed writes in song breaks that convey Simon's feelings and inner thoughts through rap lyrics, which will keep even reluctant readers going. Simon is a relatable and authentic upper elementary student who will connect with the intended audience--tweens will be cheering for him as his confidence grows and he shines bright. VERDICT This uplifting, realistic story of a young Black boy lyricist is a strong addition to any library collection.--Elizabeth Pelayo, St. Charles East H.S., IL

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

On the West Side of Chicago, Black fifth-grade rapper Simon Barnes, 11, also known as Rhymin' Simon--or, as he'd prefer to be called, the Notorious D.O.G.--decides to focus on housing uncertainty for his back-to-school oral presentation at Booker T. Washington Elementary. After encountering Sunny Jackson, a kind elderly Black man who often sweeps trash outside Simon's building, Simon begins to wonder more about the lives of the unhoused people in his community. With the support of his new teacher, the cheerful Mr. James, and his best friends, bespectacled Afro-Latina Maria Rivera and tall, anime-loving C.J. Jones, Simon starts visiting a nearby shelter to interview grandfatherly, always cheerful Sunny, once the lead singer of a blues band. Though Simon struggles with nerves and school bullies, his love for rap eventually empowers him to create positive change. Known as "Chicago's rapping teacher," Reed writes his characters with compassionate and keen insight, effectively conveying the transformative power of art, storytelling, and community. Simon's freestyle rap lyrics, and grayscale cartoon-style illustrations of the cast by Paul, are interwoven throughout, adding layers of emotion, wit, and levity to this accessible debut. Ages 8-12. Agent: Elizabeth Bewley, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Mar.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Upbeat and heartfelt, Simon B. Rhymin' is a sure-fire hit!"—Lincoln Peirce, New York Times bestselling creator of Big Nate and Max & the Midknights

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Simon is 11 and wants to be a world-famous rapper and be called Notorious D.O.G. but most of the time he is scared and afraid. I could feel his fear when I read this book.

Dwayne Reed
Dwayne Reed is America's favorite rapping teacher from Chicago and the author of the Simon B. Rhymin' series. He is known for his viral music videos and hit songs, "Welcome to the 4th Grade" and "Welcome to Kindergarten." When he's not writing, rapping, or teaching, Dwayne can be found presenting at educator conferences across the US, or loving on his beautiful wife, Simoné, and their children, Chase and Cambridge. He invites you to follow him on Twitter and Instagram @TeachMrReed.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date
March 02, 2021
Simon B. Rhymin'
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV035000 - Juvenile Fiction | School & Education
JUV039140 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
JUV039070 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Homelessness & Poverty
JUV031040 - Juvenile Fiction | Performing Arts | Music
Library of Congress categories
Self-confidence in children
African Americans
Chicago (Ill.)
African American boys
Rap (Music)

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