It’s no secret I love books. If you’ve ever checked out The Ultimate Music Ed Book List, you know that I have spent hours cataloguing books for the music classroom. But what to do with all these books? It’s more than just “music story time”, especially when the book isn’t music themed. Here’s some great things to do with books for the music class.
Musicians and Composers
This one is the most obvious. There are so many books on composers and musicians that it’s a great way to bring some music history into the classroom. Even better, there are a lot more NEW books on people outside of the pantheon of who was always talked about (Mozart, Beethoven, Bach…). Now you can find books on amazing BBIA musicians and musicians from genres outside of classical music.
Sound Story/Make it Musical
This is a great way to take a book that you love and bring it in to your classroom. I adore the book Buzzy the Bumblebee. My first year teaching, I happened to see it in a library and loved it so much I wanted to make it the theme of the 2nd graders end of the year concert. So the school librarian read it and in between pages, the students performed songs about what was going on. There was a song about reading a story, a song about rain, a song about flying, etc. It was the perfect way to make something musical out of a book that has not an ounce of musical anything in it.
Another way is to create a sound story. For recurring characters and actions, students can make a creative element like a rhythm played on a woodblock or use a sound effect instrument, or even make a melodic theme for a character. Let them add movement, scarves, or whatever they would like to help make the story come alive. Even if there aren’t a lot of instruments in your school, students can add body percussion as a an option.
One more way to make a book musical is to create an ostinato or ostinati to be repeated between pages. Let students come up with it, add Orff or non-pitched percussion and make it part of the story. These are three great ways to use non-music themed books in the music room.
Representation of Diverse Cultures
Outside of representing diverse composers and musicians, we can represent diverse cultures where finding books about musicians and composers may be more difficult. For example, there aren’t exactly a lot of books about musicians from various Pacific Islands. But if you want to represent those cultures, finding a folk tale or a book that truly represents that culture is a great addition to studying the music. It can help be a window for students into that culture and help them understand.
Teach a Concept
There are some great books out there that actually teach musical concepts (Vicky Weber I’m looking at you).
In addition to her books, the most common books you can find are books about Western instruments. There are other note reading books, and books about dance, concerts, performing, stage fright, and beat. Steady beat books are plentiful as well because “groove”, “boogie”, “dance” tend to be themes in children’s literature that pop up often and usually those books are great rhythmic reads with steady beats.
Music Themed Books
Sometimes you just want to read a story and these are perfect. For younger classes, it’s a great way to help them settle down before their teacher comes back to pick them up. It’s also something they can listen to if they are finishing something that doesn’t need as much concentration like a coloring sheet. And let’s not even go into how these are perfect for a sub (rather than them trying to set up the room for musical chairs) or when something you planned takes much less time than you anticipated. Music themed books aren’t always found easily but when they are, snatch them up because having a bunch of these will get you through so many things.
Looking for books?
Check out The Ultimate Music Ed Book List