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Literacy Links: The Orchestra Sings

Aaron Copland (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers) by Mike Venezia

Meet Aaron Copland in Mike Venezia’s humorous (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers) series. This playful biography explores Copland’s life and work, focusing on his integration of American themes in works such as “Billy the Kid” and “El Salón México.”

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman, presidential inaugural poet and activist, pens a stirring picture book centered on the hope and power of a collective voice. In this story, a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey in which they discover their ability to make change.

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.

Dance Me a Story by Jane Rosenberg

Dance Me a Story retells twelve stories from great classical ballets such as Firebird, Swan Lake, and The Sleeping Beauty. Each tale is complemented by detailed watercolor illustrations which recreate the grandeur, drama, and grace of a live performance.

Firebird by Misty Copeland

In Firebird, Misty Copeland puts herself in poetic dialogue with an African American ballet student whose confidence is fragile. Copeland’s title role in Stravinsky’s The Firebird serves as a metaphor in her encouraging message to young individuals with big dreams and a theme for the book’s vivid illustrations.

Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow celebrates the inherent musicality of names from different cultures and empowers readers to reconsider the beauty, history, and significance of their own.

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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