Reply To: Favorite Books For Class

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Artie Almeida’s Mallet Madness has a lot of ideas for incorporating picture books into your music class. I have used and like her ideas for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Click-Clack-Moo: Cows That Type; Caps for Sale; and Mortimer.

I also use some awesome books to teach my students about musicians or songs. Most of these happen to tie into Black History Month and/or April’s Jazz Month, but you could use them anytime. There are tons out there, like:

Duke Ellington, by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney
Ella Fitzgerald, by the same authors
Satchmo’s Blues, by Alan Schroeder (kinda long-winded though)
Rap A Tap Tap, Think of That! by Leo & Diane Dillon (Mr. Bojangles; from Mallet Madness Strikes Again)
Follow the Drinking Gourd, by Jeannette Winter
Moses, by Carole Boston Weatherford (I pair it with the spiritual “Go Down, Moses”)
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, by Chris Raschka (he also has a Giant Steps book that I gave as a gift to my dad but haven’t used in my classroom… yet)
Peter and the Wolf, by Chris Raschka (nice to show the pictures to the students while we listen)
The Star Spangled Banner, by Amy Winstead
The Composer is Dead, by Lemony Snicket (Our local symphony played this for their free children’s concert a couple years ago and it’s awesome. The book comes with a CD and it’s a good sub plan for intermediate because all the sub has to do is play the CD and show the book. Lemony Snicket himself reads the story and the San Francisco Orchestra plays the music. It’s so fun!)

My principal loves that I’m reading to classes, and I love reading almost as much as I love music, so it’s fun to share that with the kids. They almost universally love being read to, and it’s a more stimulating way to introduce them to the history behind songs and musicians than just lecturing.

And finally, I can second how great the Jeff Kriske and Randy DeLelles books are. I have their GamePlan curriculum for 1st grade, and it’s a great jumping off point, although it’s expensive (which is why I only have 1st grade), and I supplement it with some other activities and folk songs. They have the Thyme for a Rhyme book which gives some ideas for methods of using nursery rhymes and songs in Orff-y ways. There are two more books after that one, but I don’t think they’re as good.

For Pre-K, K, and 1st grade, Feierabend’s First Steps in Music is a good curriculum you could look into.

Edited to add: We have Share the Music from like 15 years ago in my district. One of my colleagues uses it sequentially for K, 1, and 2, and not as much in intermediate. I use it sometimes to find ideas for songs and activities, but don’t use it sequentially much at all. I have found that the second grade Share the Music is the “best,” in that the songs and activities are appealing to the kids, sequenced pretty well, and aren’t too cheesy to me, either. But I still don’t go through the whole book in order, I just have found that I like a lot of the stuff in the second grade book.