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Books You Need in Your Music Classroom - PRIMARY LIST

Books in the music classroom can be used for singing, dancing, composing, history and more! Check out this huge list of children's literature that should be on the shelves of your music classroom.

In my music education college classes, way back in the day, it never occurred to me to invest in children's books for my music classroom.  I guess that it never occurred to my instructors either because I didn't hear about it until a few years into my teaching career.  It sounds crazy doesn't it? 

There are so many amazing pieces of children's literature that lend themselves to teaching musical concepts and enhance lessons in history, movement, composition and more.  This is a list of some of the books that I like using with Preschool through 2nd grades.  This list is in no way complete, but hopefully it will provide you with inspiration when shopping for your classroom.

If you are interested in my list of books for upper elementary, you'll want to check out THIS post with a long list of books that I keep for 3rd through 6th graders.

Add Sound Effects
Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? Bill Martin Jr.
Caps for Sale Esphyr Slobodkina
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown 
The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything Linda Williams
The Napping House Audrey and Don Wood
Tiptoe Joe  Ginger Foglesong Gibson
This is the House That Jack Built  Simms Taback
Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day Judith Viorst
In the Tall, Tall Grass Denise Fleming
Mortimer  Robert Munsch

Great for vocal exploration or incorporating classroom instruments, this list of books is just a few of the books that work well for adding instruments.  Each book uses a repetitive and sometimes cumulative format that makes it easy for students to follow along.
Looking for an easy way to get started with this kind of activity?  Start with This is the House That Jack Built.  At the beginning of the book, there is a cast list.  Have your students brainstorm sounds they can make that would represent each character.  Next, read the book adding those sound effects.  So much fun!
Books in the music classroom can be used for singing, dancing, composing, history and more! Check out this huge list of children's literature that should be on the shelves of your music classroom.

Instruments

Berlioz the Bear Jan Brett
Carnival of the Animals John Lithgow
Dan, The Taxi Man  Eric Ode
Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo John Lithgow
The Remarkable Farkle McBride John Lithgow
Tubby the Tuba Paul Tripp
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin Lloyd Moss

In my classroom, we don't really plunge into naming instruments and classifying instruments by family until 3rd grade. That being said, we learn about individual instruments and classroom instruments in K-2.  In addition to identifying instruments in pieces we listen to, exploring the music of Peter and the Wolf and Carnival of the animals, I like to use these books about instruments in class.

Books in the music classroom can be used for singing, dancing, composing, history and more! Check out this huge list of children's literature that should be on the shelves of your music classroom.

Rhyming Books for Rhythm Work
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Bill Martin Jr.
Commotion in the Ocean Giles Andreae
Farmer Joe and the Music Show Tony Mitton
'Possum Come a-Knockin' by Nancy Van Laan
Moo Bah La La La by Sandra Boynton
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
Llama Llama Red Pajama  by Anna Dewdney

There are thousands of rhyming books that have strong rhythm and repetition and work well for rhythm work.  I've listed just a few and know that you probably have several books in your library that aren't on this list.

With rhyming books, I often read them and have students keep the steady beat by patting or with non-pitched percussion instruments.  You could have them isolate rhythms from the book and decipher their rhythm, play them on Orff instruments, create body percussion sections and more.

Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney is great for rhythm work too, but isn't a strong rhyming book.  I pass out drumsticks (or chop sticks!) and have students echo the drumming phrases in this book.  This is a fun way to introduce this great book to a class.

Movement
My Many Colored Days Dr. Suess
What a Wonderful World Theile and Weiss
My Many Colored Days and What a Wonderful World are excellent books for adding movement with scarves and ribbons.  Read the book, assign students a color or another key word in the story.  When students hear that word or phrase, they move with their scarf.  I use the Louis Armstrong version of "What a Wonderful World" to play while we move too.

Giraffe's Can't Dance by Giles Andreae is such a delightful rhyming book!  I love to cue up music to match the specific genres mentioned in the book and play it on our second reading.  I challenge students to dance in the same style too.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael J. Rosen is a great way to introduce the Bear Hunt activity most music teachers use in music class.  I also like to keep this in my library so students can read and move during center time.
Books in the music classroom can be used for singing, dancing, composing, history and more! Check out this huge list of children's literature that should be on the shelves of your music classroom.
 Sing the Book
Baa Baa Black Sheep Iza Trapani
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Bill Martin Jr.
Cat Goes Fiddle-I-Fee Paul Gaidone
Coat of Many Colors  Dolly Parton
Don't Laugh at Me Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin
Five Green and Speckled Frogs  Priscilla Burris
Footloose Kenny Loggins
Grandma's Feather Bed John Denver
Groovy Joe Ice Cream and Dinosaurs Eric Litwin and Tom Lichtenheld
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands  Kadir Nelson
How Much is that Doggie in the Window Iza Trapani
Hush Little Baby Brian Pinkney
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More Karen Beaumont
I'm a Little Teapot Iza Trapani
Itsy Bitsy Spider Iza Trapani
Jennie Jenkins John Feierabend
Mary Had a Little Lamb Iza Trapani
My Favorite Things Renne Graef
Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone? Iza Trapani
One Love Bob Marley
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons Eric Litwin
Pete the Cat Rockin' in My School Shoes Eric Litwin
Row, Row, Row Your Boat Iza Trapani
Sing and Dance in Your Polka Dot Pants  Eric Litwin and Tom Lichtenheld
Sunshine on My Shoulders John Denver
Take Me Home, Country Roads John Denver
The Seals on the Bus Lenny Hort
This Land is Your Land Woody Guthrie
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star Iza Trapani
What Does the Fox Say Svein Nyhus
Wheels on the Bus Raffi

Books in the music classroom can be used for singing, dancing, composing, history and more! Check out this huge list of children's literature that should be on the shelves of your music classroom.

Miscellaneous
Introduction to Opera
Chalk Bill Thomson
This book is pictures only and makes the perfect introduction to opera!  I explain to students that an opera is a play that is sung, not spoken.  Then I sing questions and they sing their answers before we "read" this book.  I sing what I think is happening on the first few pages and then invite students to take over the story in the same way.  It is so fun to hear their creative improvisations!

Vocalizations
How to Speak Moo Deborah Fajerman
So fun for vocal warm ups, this book has students "mooing" in all sorts of ways!

Dynamics
Harold Finds a Voice Courtney Diemas
Ruby Sings the Blues Niki Daly
Looking for a great way to introduce dynamics to your primary learners?  These books are perfect!

Let me know what books you love to use with your primary students in the comments or on Facebook.  If you liked this list PIN IT for later!
Books in the music classroom can be used for singing, dancing, composing, history and more! Check out this huge list of children's literature that should be on the shelves of your music classroom.
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2 comments:

  1. Another great book for the elementary classroom is Octopus's Garden by Ringo Starr. It comes with a CD of Ringo singing and reading the story. But best of all there is a recording of the song without voices so that your students can sing along themselves. Gotta love Ringo!

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