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Start with a Book

Ricky Rocket

A summer reading program for kids from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book

Children's books and activities

Music and Musicians

Many kids love to sing, write songs, play music, and even create their own homemade instruments. And some children are curious about the lives of famous singers, songwriters, and musicians. We've gathered up a great collection of books, activities, apps, and websites for learning all about music and musicians.

Try pairing fiction with nonfiction books and exploring different genres (like poetry and biographies) and formats (like audio books). You'll be creating your own "text sets" — collections of texts focused on a specific topic. Reading widely in this way helps children build background knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

Music and Musicians

Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

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A Tisket, a Tasket

By: Ella Fitzgerald

Age Level: 3-6 years old

The song made famous by jazz great Ella Fitzgerald in the 1930s has been re-created, re-...

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

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Level: 3-6 years old

John's music began when he listened to the music in his childhood. Semi-abstract...

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Charlie Parker Played Be Bop

By: Chris Raschka

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Inspired by jazz great Charlie Parker, rhythm and repetition are woven together to create a...

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Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills

By: Renee Watson

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Bold, bright illustrations and a cheerful text that includes song lyrics introduce the life of an...

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Hip Cat

By: Jonathan London

Age Level: 3-6 years old

A cool cat named Oobie-Do moves to San Francisco, plays his saxophone and works as a short order...

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Hip Hop Dog

By: Chris Raschka

Age Level: 3-6 years old

A mutt tells reveals a "doggy allegory" and how he went from "the saddest and the...

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I Got the Rhythm

By: Connie Scholfield-Morrison

Age Level: 3-6 years old

On a sunny day, a child and her mother go for a walk in the park. The rhythm the girl hears in...

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Music, Music for Everyone

By: Vera Williams

Age Level: 3-6 years old

When Rosa's grandmother becomes sick, Rosa comes up with an idea that not only makes...

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The Orchestra Pit

By: Johanna Wright

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Even though the green-spotted snake wanders into the wrong pit – an orchestra pit – he takes the...

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Tito Puente, Mambo King

By: Monica Brown

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Tito Puente was born to be a musician. He grew up to become the Mamba King to whose music people...

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Uptown

By: Bryan Collier

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Join a boy as he takes you uptown to introduce his Harlem home, filled with excitement, sounds,...

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When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson

By: Pam Muñoz Ryan

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Marian Anderson was an extraordinary contralto whose talent was celebrated in Europe long before...

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Age Level: 6-9 years old

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A Band of Angels

By: Deborah Hopkinson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Ella Sheppard was one of the original Jubilee Singers from what is now known as Fisk University...

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Boys Dancing: From School Gym to Theater Stage

By: George Ancona

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Elementary school-age boys start at the beginning of the school year to study with Pamela at the...

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Dizzy

By: Jonah Winter

Age Level: 6-9 years old

John Birks Gillespie was an angry child from an abusive home. He was able to overcome huge...

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Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite

By: Anna Harwell Celenza

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Duke Ellington's collaboration with a classically trained colleague resulting in unique...

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Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa

By: Andrea Pinkney

Age Level: 6-9 years old

From her early days in Harlem to becoming the First Lady of Jazz, the story of Ella Fitzgerald...

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Flowers for Sarajevo

By: John McCutcheon

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Drasko is Milo’s son who carries on his father’s flower business even after things in Sarajevo...

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For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart

By: Elizabeth Rusch, Steve Johnson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The life of Wolfgang’s older sister, Maria Anna, follows the form of a piano sonata which...

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Freedom in Congo Square

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Join the rhythmic countdown to Sunday afternoon, the one time when enslaved Africans in 19th...

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M Is for Music

By: Kathleen Krull

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The alphabet is used as a device to introduce the vocabulary for a range of musical styles as...

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My Name Is Celia/Me llamo Celia

By: Monica Brown

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The beautiful artwork of this award-winning picture book about salsa queen Celia Cruz practically...

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Odetta: The Queen of Folk

By: Stephen Alcorn

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The life and music of Odetta who became an influential folksinger and civil rights activist is...

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Simple Gifts

By: Chris Raschka

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A familiar traditional Shaker hymn has been interpreted in bold, semi-abstract, jewel-toned...

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Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald

By: Eileen L. Ordover

Age Level: 6-9 years old

From a poor girl who had "a dancing beat in her feet ever since she was a bitty girl"...

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Sweet Music in Harlem

By: Debbie Taylor

Age Level: 6-9 years old

CJ's uncle, a well known jazz musician, has lost his signature hat and sends the boy out to...

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The Carnival of the Animals

By: Jack Prelutsky

Age Level: 6-9 years old

New poems, many rhyming, describe the animals introduced in Saint-Saens' orchestral music that...

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Age Level: 9-12 years old

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Great American Mousical

By: Emma Walton Hamilton

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Theater mice perform in a space just out of human sight in a venerable old New York theater. Alas!...

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Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph

By: Roxanne Orgill

Age Level: 9-12 years old

In 1958, photographer Art Kane gathered up a who’s who of jazz musicians on a New York City...

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Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies

By: Julie Andrews, Emma Walton Hamilton

Age Level: 9-12 years old

A range of poetic styles, some rooted in the authors' family, are shared in this handsome, easily...

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