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Literacy Links: The Orchestra Moves

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle’s poetic picture book tells the story of a young Chinese-African-Cuban girl who dreams of playing music. Set in Cuba’s 1930s music scene, Drum Dream Girl focuses on a love of rhythm while also engaging issues of sexism, music’s cultural significance, and the importance of family and teachers in learning.

Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing by Marilyn Singer

Marilyn Singer’s vibrant collection of poems is written to reflect the rhythms of social dances from salsa to swing. The book includes an audio CD of the author reading each poem accompanied by original music from composer Jonathon Roberts.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers) by Mike Venezia

Meet Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Mike Venezia’s humorous (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers) series. This informative biography describes the composer’s prodigious musical talents and highlights his prolific output of over 800 compositions.

Ludwig van Beethoven (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers) by Mike Venezia

Meet Ludwig van Beethoven in Mike Venezia’s humorous (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers) series. This definitive biography recounts the composer’s life and work, underscoring how canonic works, such as Symphony No. 5, forever changed the sounds of music.

Literacy Links: General

Because by Mo Willems

Mo Willems’ moving picture book traces a young girl’s journey to the center stage. “Because” of interconnected moments of chance, sacrifice, persistence, and magic, the protagonist discovers a lifelong love of music and grows up to conduct her own symphonies.

Orchestra by Avolon Nuovo

In this engaging introduction to the symphony orchestra, Avolon Nuovo explores the orchestra’s history, instrument families, and the life and work of luminary composers such as Duke Ellington and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

Susan Hood tells the extraordinary true tale of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, a youth orchestra whose instruments are fashioned from recycled trash. Available in English and Spanish, Ada’s Violin reveals the profound ways in which music can change the way we see ourselves and our communities.

The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket

There’s dreadful news from the symphony hall—the composer is dead! Inspired by Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Lemony Snicket’s irreverent murder mystery invites students to join the Inspector as he interrogates the instruments of the orchestra.

Music Is... by Stephen T. Johnson

Music Is... explores ten different genres of music—classical, Latin, jazz, country, heavy metal, hip-hop, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, electronica, pop, and a surprise finale. Students will delight in this imaginative journey of sounds, styles, and rhythms as they unfold through a unique accordion book form.

Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido D’Arezzo by Susan Roth

Susan Roth tells the lesser-known story of Guido D’Arezzo, an Italian monk who devised the first system of musical notation in the early 11th century. Readers follow D’Arezzo from his boyhood in the choir to his eventual achievement, and learn how his invention led to the beginnings of musical systems we use today.

Can You Hear It? by William Lach

Can You Hear It? pairs masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art with orchestral works from a broad range of composers, including Gershwin and Vivaldi. Lach describes connections between musical compositions and artworks, and invites young readers to identify instruments and orchestral themes while listening to an accompanying CD.

Little Eddie Goes to Carnegie Hall by Sean Hollins and Sonya Hollins

When Little Eddie visits Carnegie Hall with his music teacher, the world of music comes alive. Based on the childhood piano lessons of classical pianist Edward Callahan Jr., Little Eddie Goes to Carnegie Hall highlights prominent African American musicians who have performed at Carnegie Hall, such as Duke Ellington and Florence Price, and invites readers to find their own musical voice.

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