I honestly don’t know if I’ve had three books in a set that have as much gorgeous illustration as these books for Jewish American Heritage Month. Not only are they gorgeous but they really highlight such an amazing set of musicians. I hope that these give you some great ideas to use and have some amazing lovely moments with your students.
I’m very much a person who makes sure that I cover different cultural groups all year and not just in ‘the’ month that is set aside. 

But I still think it’s important to cover them in that month. 

(Full disclosure: some affiliate links but it won’t change your price. No pressure!)

1. Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrator: James E. Ransome
ISBN: 978-0823423620
Buy the Book on Amazon

This book is actually about both Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson, not just a highlight of one with a mention of the other. The beginning of the book has two scenes side by side (or set of pages by set of pages) about both Benny and Teddy as they grew up and how they became musicians. Then it talks about late night jam sessions that weren’t segregated. Benny and Teddy meet and how they the felt like their music blended so they started working together forming the Benny Goodman Trio. Then one day, they stopped playing as a segregated group.

Listening: The Benny Goodman Quartet featuring Benny, Teddy, Gene Krupa and Lionel Hampton at Lincoln Center in 1972.

2. The Music in George’s Head:  George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue

Author: Suzanne Slade, Illustrator: Stacy Innerst
ISBN: 978-1629790992
Buy the Book on Amazon

This avant-garde book is full of blues and blacks, mixed fonts, and swirling text. It paints a lovely picture of the piece and how it came to be.

I love to put things in kids ears before they have a mental picture. The Fantasia 2000 version is SO fun, but I think showing musicians playing this is way more fun! – Also – Herbie Hancock. <3 Your kids will absolutely notice how much fun they have in this performance.

3. Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin: The Story of Young Itzhak Perlman

Author: Tracy Newman, Illustrator: Abigail Halpin
ISBN: 978-1419741104
Buy the Book on Amazon

A prodigy, disabled individual, and well known violinist, Itzhak has done everything from Sesame Street to Billy Joel in addition to his astounding classical career. This book is a gorgeously illustrated book about how Itzhak wanted a violin and how his parents got him one after his bout with polio as well as how his talent was put on the world stage when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

This time, there are two but first, I couldn’t help but include this lovely short sketch from Sesame Street with a little girl talking about how some things are easy for some people, and hard for others.

Since in addition to Jewish American Heritage Month, May is also Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, this beautiful Dvořák Humoresque No. 7 in G-flat Major, Op. 101 with another child prodigy, Yo-Yo Ma.

And lastly, his famous Ed Sullivan appearance at the age of 13 to inspire your young musicians.

I hope this is helpful to create some great lessons with your students!

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