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Children's Fiction Poetry (see Also Stories In Verse)

Welcome to the Cypher

by (author) Khodi Dill

illustrated by Awuradwoa Afful

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2021
Poetry (see also Stories in Verse), Emotions & Feelings, Music, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Recommended Age
4 to 7
Recommended Grade
p to 2
Recommended Reading age
4 to 7
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Dec 2022
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Download Teacher’s Guide

Where to buy it


WELCOME TO THE CYPHER is a delight to read—a story that will move every part of you to a wild and wonderful beat.” —Jael Richardson, Author and Executive Director, The Festival of Literary Diversity

"WELCOME TO THE CYPHER is a beautiful, rhythmic exploration of the joy of language and self-expression. Our whole family loved how the bright illustrations and the bold words pulled us through this gorgeous book …We're HUGE fans!" —Bestselling authors, Alice Kuipers (the Polly Diamond series) & Yann Martel (Life of Pi)

Words burn bright in this joyful celebration of rap, creativity, and self-expression.

“Welcome to the cypher!

Now huddle up nice and snug.

You feel that circle around you?

Well, that’s a hip hop hug!”

Starting with beatboxes and fingersnaps, an exuberant narrator introduces kids in his community to the powerful possibilities of rap, from turning “a simple phrase/into imagery that soars” to proclaiming, “this is a voice that represents me!” As Khodi Dill’s rhymes heat up, the diverse crew of kids—illustrated in Awuradwoa Afful’s bold, energetic style—gain self-confidence and a sense of freedom in this wonderful picture book debut that is perfect for reading aloud.

About the authors

KHODI DILL is a Bahamian-Canadian writer of everything from rap songs to children’s literature. He is a practicing anti-racist educator with a passion for social justice and the arts. Khodi is a proud father and partner who lives and writes in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Khodi Dill's profile page

AWURADWOA AFFUL is a Ghanaian-Canadian designer, illustrator, and animator. She was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario.

Awuradwoa Afful's profile page


  • Short-listed, City of Saskatoon Book Award
  • Short-listed, David Booth Children’s and Youth Poetry Award
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children’s Books Centre

Editorial Reviews

“Rap’s immense capacity to express and shape ourselves and the world is presented in this fun and engaging audiobook that sweeps listeners along on a musical journey of self-expression . . . for a storybook about an inherently audible subject, the audiobook medium perfectly conveys the content, especially as the author raps the words, leaving no doubt about how it is meant to be read aloud.”

Canadian Children’s Book News, 01/01/23

“A fun read-aloud and a safe introduction to hip-hop as a pathway to healthy child development.”

Kirkus Reviews, 07/27/21

“This lovely book is all about being brave, stepping up, and being heard.”

Booklist, 10/15/21

“With a cadence and beat in the text itself, and accompanied by energetic illustrations, this will make an affirming addition to a poetry or music unit . . . encouraging readers to find within themselves “a voice that represents me!””

School Library Journal, *starred review, 11/21

“Dill has created a wonderful story that shines a light on an art form that is rarely represented in literature, particularly in children’s literature. The rhyming syntax makes WELCOME TO THE CYPHER a great book to read aloud and for readers to interact with. This wonderful and fun story encourages kids to be themselves and to support one another to speak up for what they believe in. This book is recommended for school-aged children and would be perfect to be read aloud in the classroom and shared with friends and family. Highly Recommended.”

CM Reviews, 09/03/21

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