Like most elementary general music teachers I LOVE to read to my students in class and have built up quite a library of books. All of them have a relationship to music, some of them require activities to do with the students to tie in the story but some of them are interactive all on their own. Here is 5 books I have read to my students that are proven hits and some activities to go along with them:
Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett tells the story of poor Berlioz the Bear whose string bass has a mysterious buzzing sound. His orchestra is on its way to the village square to a concert and gets stuck. After a large group of animals tries to pull their wagon out Berlioz finds out the reason his bass has been buzzing…A BEE! The bee stings the donkey pulling the cart of musicians and runs down to the square getting the musicians there on time. I tend to read this book as my younger grades start to learn about the orchestra. We talk about why an orchestra warms up, concert etiquette, and the different instruments shown in the book.
I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello by Barbara S. Garriel is a play on the series of books entitled I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a… The shy fellow in this story shows off his enormous appetite for instruments swallowing everything he can get his hands on. After he swallows as much as he can the instruments explode back out and into the hands of their owners again. This is a great book for younger students who are just getting use to instrument names. After he swallows each instrument we’ll talk about it and after they explode out of his mouth I will ask questions about the instrument to see how much they have retained!
Carnival of the Animals by Jack Prelutsky is a series of poems dedicated to the song Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens. Each section of the book is about the animals in the song giving a short poem about each one. The greatest part about this book is there is a CD that goes along with it. It narrates each poem by Jack Prelutsky himself and plays each portion of the song. The last track on the CD is the whole song. I will post pictures from the animals all around the room and play the track. The students must listen to each portion of the song and stand by the corresponding animal. I stop after each portion of the track to say which animal it was so students know if they were correct or incorrect.
Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin is a series of 3 books. Pete the Cat I love my White Shoes, Pete the Cat Rockin’ in My School Shoes, and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. Each book tells the story of Pete the Cat and his love for his clothes. Each book also has it’s own song that will get stuck in your head..I love my white shoes..I love my white shoes..OH NO! IT’S STUCK IN MY HEAD! With each book have your students sing along, don’t worry they will know the words after the first page. To go further with the song notate it and have your students play along with it. With the first book I love My White Shoes I have my kindergartners color a shoe and we put it into a book and sing along to the book before I pass the book off to the teachers as a gift. It’s a fun activity for all!
Freddie the Frog by Sharon Burch is a fantastic series I recently found this year. Each book tells of an adventure Freddie and his pal Eli go on around their home of Treble Clef Island. Each adventure secretly teaches the students a musical concept and tests them at the end. The students are surprised at first not knowing they learned anything at all until rethinking the book and that little lightbulb suddenly turns on. These books are interactive in themselves providing activities and songs for students to take part in. Make sure you have the Freddie the Frog puppet to read along with the CDs. Students are completely engaged watching you talk with it.
Check out Amazon.com to get all of these books for your collection!