Inaugurated by the National Education Association, National Read Across America Day is a yearly observance to encourage children to read more books. In honor of #ReadAcrossAmerica, we’ve selected ten musically-inspired books for children!
The Philharmonic Gets Dressed: Written by Karla Kushin with Marc Simont as illustrator, Philharmonic Gets Dressed introduces young readers to the wondrous world of a professional orchestra. The book shows musicians getting ready and making their way to “Philharmonic Hall” to perform a concert. Published in 1982, The Philharmonic Gets Dressed was nominated for the National Book Award for Children’s Books.
When Marian Sang: Pam Muñoz Ryan’s children’s biography of Marian Anderson has the potential to inspire an appreciation for classical music! Illustrated by Brian Selznick, the book tells the story of Anderson’s childhood in Philadelphia, her family encouraging her gift, and navigating through adversity at every stage of her career. When Marian Sang is a book that can truly change lives.
When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky: Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot: Author and illustrator Lauren Stringer adapts the behind-the-scenes story of Stravinsky’s riotous 1913 premiere of The Rite of Spring. With vibrant illustrations, Stringer successfully tells the story of creativity, courage, and – in only 28 pages – presents the importance of this masterpiece in the worlds of music and dance.
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin: Author Lloyd Moss and illustrator Marjorie Priceman show young readers how various instruments come together to create an orchestra. Set in musical rhyming verse, Moss shows the multiple personalities of orchestra instruments, bringing them together one by one as a duo, trio, quartet, and so on until the majesty of a large ensemble performs in concert.
Mole Music: Author-illustrator David McPhail tells the story of a mole who practices on his violin in his underground lair. He hopes one day to perform in front of princes and presidents, and that someone might be changed by his music for the better one day! Though the Mole loses his courage, the book’s enchanting ending provides an important message for readers of all ages – that one person is neither a legion or an island. Still, the effects of what we do can be vast and influential without even knowing it.
Lives of the Musicians: Good Time, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought): Lives of the Musicians, part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s “Lives of…” series, provides personalities to the marble busts atop pedestals. Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Brahms, and others create engaging child-friendly stories written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt. Lives of the Musicians also provides facts about the featured musician at the end of each chapter.
Beethoven for Kids: His Life and Music: Helen Bauer’s book contains a wealth of information about the towering figure, presented in a fun style along with phenomenal graphics and designs. The book’s ten chapters cover significant events and moments in Beethoven’s life as well as information from the Habsburgs and the French Revolution, to the women Beethoven adored and the doctors who aided him. The book also contains activities and guides for readers, a recommended list of CDs and DVDs, and a glossary of musical terms.
The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day: Katie Colton presents the story of a little girl named Isabelle and her dog, Pickle, as they discover what it’s like to travel through the four seasons in one day. (Many of us in the region know the journey all too well.) The interactive book, illustrated byt Jessica Courtney-Tickle, features a 10-second clip of Vivaldi’s Four Season at each spread, along with a biography of the author and a guide to the music.
The Music in George’s Head: George Gerswhin Creates Rhapsody in Blue: Author, Suzanne Slade, tells the story of the inspiration for Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and how it became an “experiment in modern music” and one of the world’s most beloved works. Stacy Innerst’s illustration – in one and many shades of blue – makes the pages come alive as edges and shadows twist into each other in the same way classical and jazz mingle in Rhapsody in Blue. A colorful story of Gershwin’s phenomenal piece!
Meet the Orchestra: Children love music and animals, so what could be better than a book about animals playing instruments of the orchestra? Author Ann Hayes and illustrator Karmen Thompson presents a walrus thumping on a double bass, a polar bear on a bassoon, and a lion conducting as the book brings out the personalities of each instrument through the animals themselves. A delightful musical menagerie for the kiddos!
We hope you’ll take some time today to read a book or two (or more!) from our list that will inspire and engage your little ones in the art of music!
During February and March, the RPO welcomes more than 17,000 children into Kodak Hall. For some students, this may be their first exposure to live orchestral music, and for many others, it may be their ONLY experience. By giving a gift to the RPO, you are helping to provide the necessary resources to bring world-class orchestral music to our region, and the next generation of music lovers.
Learn more about the importance of supporting future generations in the art of music at rpo.org/support.