Read about a musician!

Dillon, Leo. Jazz on a Saturday Night. New York : Blue Sky Press, 2007.

Ellis, Sarah. As Glenn As Can Be. Toronto: Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, 2022.

Glenn knows what he likes: fun, nature, seeing patterns, and playing piano. He also knows what he doesn’t like: bullies, feeling cold, going to school, and being around noisy people. So where is his favourite place to be? An empty concert hall, where he can play a song over and over and over again until it is just right. Brilliantly written by a prolific award-winning author and beautifully designed with additional information at the end, this biography of Canada’s most famous pianist is highly recommended for readers 6 years old and up.

Golio, Gary. Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: The Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix. Boston: Clarion Books, 2010. 

Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane's Musical Journey

Golio, Gary. Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey. Boston: Clarion Books, 2012.
Jazz musican John Coltrane grew up in a home filled with music and filled with faith in God. Both influenced his entire life: he learned to play the saxophone and after a difficult time during young adulthood when he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, he returned to the faith of his childhood.  Powerfully illustrated with acrylic paintings and mixed media pictures, this outstanding picture book is highly recommended for music lovers 10 years old and up. [African Americans; Faith; Jazz — Biography; Music — History; Musicans]

Hood, Susan. Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. 

Ada lives in a poverty-stricken town that serves as the main garbage dump for the capital city of Paraguay. She – along with thousands of other residents – spend their days picking through the trash to find things to recycle and sell. This poignant and inspiring story tells how a man sent to teach safety practices decided to teach the children how to make musical instruments. The orchestra he formed has now performed around the world!  Dramatically illustrated by Sally Wern Comport, this true story is recommended for readers 7 years old and up. 

K’naan and Sol Guy. When I Get Older: the Story Behind the Wavin’ Flag. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2012.
Inspired by his grandfather’s words K’Naan tell his moving story which includes life as a refugee and flight to North America. – flyleaf [Rap musicians; Somali Canadians; Somalia — History] 

Myers, Walter Dean. Jazz. New York: Holiday House, 2008.

Carmen, Oliver. Building an Orchestra of Hope: How Favio Chávez Taught Children to Make Music from Trash. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2022. 

What happens to the trash taken away by garbage trucks? It goes to landfills. In the capital city of Paraguay, it goes to a landfill in a tiny town where – every day – people pick through the heaps and heaps, looking for something to sell. After school, children join their parents in the search for jewelry, cardboard, plastic – anything at all – that can help them earn enough money to survive. In 2006, Favio Chávez came to teach the people better ways to recycle those mountains of garbage. He decided to also teach the children how to play musical instruments. But how would he get enough instruments? Well, from the trash, of course. This picture book – illustrated by Luisa Uribe – tells the story of how Chávez taught thirty children to read music and play together in an orchestra. A long afterward provides more details about this true story of ingenuity and determination. Highly recommended for all ages.

Parker, Robert Andrew. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008. 

Richards, Keith. Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar. New York: Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2014.
What a pitch perfect story! World-renowned guitarist Keith Richards tells the story of his childhood in England. He breath-stoppingly beautifully describes going on long walks with his granddad, Gus, who hummed tunes the whole way. He tells how Gus handed him his first guitar and started his life as a musician. Black and white photographs and additional information conclude this picture book imaginatively illustrated by Thoedora Dupree Richards, Gus’s great-granddaughter and Keith’s daughter. Most highly recommended for readers – and listeners – 6 years old and up. You will want to read it over and over again to enjoy the exquisite rhythm of the phrasing. [Grandfathers; Grandparent and child; Guitarists; London (Eng.); Musical instruments; Richards, Keith]

Winter, Jonah. Dizzy. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2006.
Dizzy Gillespie was a fighter. His father beat him, and he beat other people. But then, a teacher gave him a trumpet and his life changed forever. Dizzy became the creator of a whole new kind of jazz music: bebop! This brilliantly designed picture book illustrated by Sean Qualls is recommended for music lovers of all ages. [Creativity; Gillespie, Dizzy; Jazz musicians; Trumpet]

Benny Goodman

Winter, Jonah. Once Upon a Time in Chicago: the Story of Benny Goodman New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.
“A simple biography of the great jazz musician, Benny Goodman, and how his extraordinary musical ability was originally encouraged by his immigrant father.” – CIP. [Clarinetists; Goodman, Benny; Jazz musicians]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email