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Jazz Books for Kids

I am always on the hunt for great children's books to share in the music room. Sometimes the books that I select are ones that I want to share with students myself. These are often ones that I will sing to students or we will create music with. Others I like to leave for subs. Often these books have more listening opportunities, tell about styles of music, different musicians, different instruments, etc. I have found that my subs really like when I leave these types of lessons. Sometimes the book I leave will come with a CD. If not, I leave YouTube links or burn a CD with music to go along with the books, or for listening examples to play after reading the book. Then I like to leave some questions for the sub to ask after reading the book and some type of worksheet to go along with it. 

I have been collecting books about jazz musicians for a few years now, and finally put together two sets of children's literature mini lessons to accompany these great books.

This set contains six children's literature mini lessons with extensions. I've included lesson plans where the music teacher or the sub reads the book (some are with CD or I have included YouTube links for you to play during or after reading the book) and then digs a little deeper with some brainstorming, review, writing, drawing, etc. afterwards. These lessons can be accomplished in one class period.

There aren't as many books on the women of jazz as a there are on the men who shaped jazz, but I pulled books that I thought showcased the many contributions of women in jazz. Ella Fitzgerald helped to popularize scat singing, and continues to be the gold standard for jazz vocalists. Billie Holiday had a very different sound than Ella, but is also considered one of the greatest jazz vocalists. In a world where many women sang or danced, Mary Lou Williams broke through barriers playing an instrument. Not only did she play piano, but she composed, arranged music for Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. She also helped to develop the talents of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie. Melba Liston also broke through gender stereotypes as one of the first women of any race to become a world-class trombone player, arranger, and composer. She played with Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones. She has touched jazz, rhythm and blues, and reggae as she composed and arranged music for Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Tony Bennet, the Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, and more. Although all of their names may not be as familiar as some of their male counterparts, they definitely had a hand in shaping jazz.

Books used in this set:
  • Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa
  • A-Tisket, A-Tasket: Ella Fitzgerald
  • Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald
  • Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holiday and the Dog Who Loved Her
  • The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend
  • The Little Melba And Her Big Trombone
Preview of the pages included in this set:

This set follows the same format as my Women of Jazz set. Something I really like about this set is that it follows how jazz evolved and some of the artists who influenced those changes. Through his technical ability and charismatic style, Louis Armstrong helped move jazz into the style we think of today.  Duke Ellington relied on his compositions and the artistry of the musicians in his big band to create new and unique music in the jazz idiom. As more and more people started to play jazz, Bird (Charlie Parker) and Diz (Dizzy Gillespie) created a new kind of jazz called bebop, which required quick thinking and technical skill while utilizing more complex harmonic structures. Although Miles Davis played with Dizzy and Bird, he used his artistic voice to move jazz in a new direction: cool jazz. Cool jazz was sparse and spacious, giving the performer time to create and elaborate on their ideas. John Coltrane played with Miles, but kept pushing the boundaries of jazz. He developed his own unique style of playing and improvising, leading the way for modal jazz.

Books used in this set:
  • Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong
  • Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra

  • Bird & Diz

  • Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane

  • Birth of the Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Both of these sets can be found in my bundle, Children's Literature Music Mini Lessons Bundle.

Pin it to save for later:

Do you use any of these books already in your music classes? I'd love to hear what other activities you do with them. If you have other suggestions of books to use in my children's literature mini lessons, please let me know on this post or send me a message on my Facebook page!

Fall Themed Music Bulletin Board

Happy first day of Fall!

Today I thought I would share some fun pictures of my fall themed music bulletin board set to reinforce treble lines and spaces. The text reads "Leaves are falling into place on a line or in a space". The leaves show the note names for treble clef. Just a fun bulletin board to feel those fall vibes and celebrate the changing seasons.

Photo credit: Jena Hudson

Photo credit: Jenny Wake

If you'd like this bulletin board set that you can print and hang, check it out here!