I love using picture books in my classroom. It's a great way to promote literacy in my students, but it's also a phenomenal way to reinforce musical concepts in a different modality. What's great about picture books in the music classroom is that pretty much any book with a rhyme scheme can be easily included into our lessons. Beyond that, there are so many books that cover musical concepts and composers.
While there are so many great books that can be used in the music classroom, I wanted to share a few of my absolute favorites and how I use them in my classroom.
1. Please Baby Please, Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee
I had to start out by sharing my all-time favorite book in my classroom. This book by Spike Lee and Tonya Lee Davis is perfect for introducing Ta and Ti-Ti. As the story progresses, the rhythms change their order. I love having my students repeat the words back to me in rhythm when we are working on one sound and two sounds on a beat. This book also has one page that has a quarter rest in it, so I like to use it to see if students can tell why that one page sounds different, which to me is a clue that we are working towards being ready for the presentation of the quarter rest.
2. The Remarkable Farkle McBride, John Lithgow
If this book isn't already in your classroom library, stop what you are doing and go order it! This is such a great book for introducing the instrument families. It's also useful for describing what an orchestra and conductor are.
Farkle McBride starts out as a very young boy that wants to play an instrument. However, he can't seem to find one that he wants to stick with. He tries a bunch of different instruments throughout the story, but eventually he ends up being the stand-in conductor of the orchestra. It's then that young Farkle realizes that he enjoys being able to lead the different instruments together.
3. The Crabfish, adapted by John Feierabend
John Feierabend adapted a lot of really great song tales into children's books as a part of the First Steps in Music curriculum. I have a few of these song tales in my classroom, but one of my favorites is The Crabfish. The pictures are beautiful, and I truly believe that this adaptation does the original song tale justice.
I use this with some of my preschool and Cross-Cat classes, but I think it's also great for some older classes due to its minor modality.
4. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Bill Martin Jr & John Archambault
Ok, so this one is a classic. This book was always one of my absolute favorites as a child, and I love that I'm able to share it in my classroom. This book is great for teaching Ta and Ti-Ti. This is also a book that a lot of students have read before, so I've noticed that students get really excited when they see a book they recognize.
Becca over at Becca's Music Room has a great lesson on using this book to practice notating Ta and Ti-Ti. Go ahead and check that out too!
5. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, Lucille Colandro
This is one of my favorite series of books that are easy to include into the music classroom. I like to start out the year with this particular book in the series, and then sprinkle in some of the other books in the series as the years go on.
The seasonal versions of these books are great at continuing the song tale throughout the year. It's also great at showing students how songs can be parodied and changed to create something new.
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Bryson Tarbet is the music educator and blogger behind That Music Teacher.