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.

9780590478939 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.

0786814209 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.

9781419714658 Trombone Shorty
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.

9780805079944 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.

061825076X 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.

9781600608988 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.

0763664588 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.

082342362X 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.

9781770492691 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.

9781612282725 Dizzy Gillespie
By: Mary Boone

Describes his turbulent childhood, the birth of bebop, and big bands.


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