In this celebration of Black English, Smitherman examines its strengths and urges its use in beginning reading programs for young children. Following Dillard's lead, she defends black speech patterns and styles, too often dismissed by whites as substandard or unsystematic, and uses the works of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and others to document the richness and vitality of black dialect. She finds in the Dozens and other modes of discourse logical extensions of African oral traditions and sees in the early attraction to and acceptance of the church an adaptation of the African world view. Writing in standard white English, using black English for emphasis, Smitherman (Speech Communication, Wayne State) cites a wide variety of sources (""I mean, really, it seem like everybody and they momma done had something to say on the subject!"") and then introduces her own recommendations in a final chapter on educational practices. Charging that the imposition of white English on black children makes excessive demands (""they must learn to be switch hitters""), she suggests a reading/language program which accommodates not ""deficiencies"" but actualities, ultimately aiming for fluency in both dialects. Her solution is wholly reasonable to anyone who's seen a black six-year-old (or sixteen-year-old) struggle with white English inflections but it overlooks several important problems (non-blacks in the class, variations in black dialect) and rather naively looks to the individual teacher as ""an agent of social change."" A jivey, feisty text, with evidence drawn from Chinua Achebe, Aretha Franklin, and streetcorner conversations.