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Jazz Appreciation Month Book Recommendations

Updated: Apr 2, 2022

April is Jazz Appreciation Month and I enjoy celebrating Jazz music with my students through stories about great musicians! Jazz Appreciation Month is a great opportunity to expose your students to a new genre of music they may not have listened to before, continue conversations about Black History and teach your students about syncopation. These are all concepts that can easily be introduced into your program through Jazz!

Here are 5 of my favourite books to use and some activities to go along with them!

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Jazz For Lunch by Jarrett Dapier and Eugenia Mello

If you follow me on Instagram, this book being at the top of my list should not be a surprise. I love this book so much!

Summary: Auntie Nina and her nephew are cooking up some beats in the kitchen with yummy ingredients and even better music!

There is a great rhythm to this book with a repeating stanza that you could totally get your students to participate in! My students totally LOVED reading and singing along to this book. I used this as a steady beat warm up with my primary classes as we tapped along and sang the repeating part. Grab your copy here.

Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and Brian Collier

This book is a classic and for me, a staple book to have in your music library collection.

Summary: This book tells the story of Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews: a boy from News Orleans who loved music and had a dream to perform and do great things with his band.

I usually don't read this book myself because I love this version read by Angel Bassett. They way she reads the story is captivating and there's music in the background that matches the imagery, which I find completely engages students in the story. Charissa Duncan (@musicwithmrsdunc) has a really great lesson and rhythm cards to go along with this story that I use every time I share this book with my primary students! Grab your copy here.

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone by Traci N. Todd and Christian Robinson

This is a new book that came out towards the end of 2021 and it is so popular that I just had to have it!

Summary: This book shares the biography of famous singer Nina Simone.

Not every book you share with your students has to have a direct link to your lesson for the day or have to be incorporated into your program; sometimes you just want to read a book for a musician feature or to honour a celebration. I use this book as a musician feature in my classroom and share it with my students so they can learn more about a musician that has had a significant impact on the modern history of music! Grab your copy here.

Welcome to Jazz by Carolyn Sloan and Jessica Gibson

A great non-fiction Jazz book to have in your collection!

Summary: Welcome to Jazz tells the story and evolution of Jazz music, what it encompasses, instruments that are usually in Jazz and so much more!

This non-fiction book is a great way to start conversations with your students about Jazz music at the beginning of the month. The play buttons on the side may seem 'young' but they are perfect for providing audible examples to help with understanding and your students will ask you to play them more than once! Grab your copy here.

Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite by Anna Celenza and Don Tate

Did you teach The Nutcracker in December?

Summary: This book tells the story of how Duke Ellington took Tchaikovsky's Nutracker Suite and transformed it into one of the most popular Jazz pieces of the time!

I like to revisit this The Nutcracker by reading this book and listening to Duke Ellington's version of the song. You can have your students do a comparison between the two on a venn diagram or have a whole class discussion about the similarities and differences between the two. Find out which version the students prefer and why. This can lead to more listening or music appreciation time of listening or comparing different versions of the same song! Grab your copy of this book here.

Nina by Alice Brière-Haquet and Bruno Liance

You can never have too many Nina books!

Summary: A stunning picture-book biography of the High Priestess of Soul and one of the greatest voices of the 20th century.

Another great book to read with your students and make a connection between music and the Civil-Rights Movement. I make it a priority to bring important moments in history into the music room and teach my students about that event through a musical lens. The arts often reflect history and provides different perspectives on the matters of history better than textbooks writtern from one perspective.

There are many Jazz Music Books that I love but these are just a few of my favourites! If you want to see more recommendations, head over to @musicroomreads on Instagram and see some more of our favourite Jazz Music books there that are perfect for this month!

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