Thematic Reading List: 10 Books to Honor Jazz Appreciation Month
April is Jazz Appreciation Month, which honors the history and heritage of jazz. Here are 10 books about legendary jazz performers perfect for elementary grades.
|Jazz on a Saturday Night
By: Leo Dillon
The simple, effortlessly rhyming text shows how jazz musicians work together to improvise music never heard before or after that one special evening.
|Duke Ellington: the piano prince and his orchestra
By: Andrea Davis Pinkney
A brief recounting of the career of this jazz musician and composer who, along with his orchestra, created music that was beyond category.
By: Troy Andrews
Hailing from the Trem’ae neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.
|Before John was a Jazz Giant: a song of John Coltrane
By: Carole Boston Weatherford
Growing up in 1930s South, John heard a lot in church, on the radio, and in his house, that would influence his style of music.
|If I Only Had a Horn: Young Louis Armstrong
By: Roxane Orgill
Relates how the famous jazz trumpeter began his musical career, as a poor boy in New Orleans, by singing songs on street corners and playing a battered cornet in a marching band.
|Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
By: Katheryn Russell-Brown
A biography of African American musician Melba Doretta Liston, a virtuoso musician who played the trombone and composed and arranged music for many of the great jazz musicians of the twentieth century. Includes afterword, discography, and sources.
|Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald
By: Roxane Orgill
Follows the beloved American jazz singer’s rise to fame, describing the difficult historical and cultural factors that she overcame.
|Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: taking the stage as the first black-and-white jazz band in history
By: Lesa Cline-Ransome
Celebrates the 1936 debut of the Benny Goodman quartet with Teddy Wilson in Chicago, considered to be the first widely seen integrated jazz performance.
|Oscar Peterson: the man and his music
By: Jack Batten
Traces Oscar Peterson’s rise from being a disadvantaged youth to becoming one of the world’s most distinguished jazz pianists, discussing such topics as his battles with racism, illness, and poverty.
By: Mary Boone
Describes his turbulent childhood, the birth of bebop, and big bands.