How do you put on a page the sharp, sweet tang of a jazz tune? Sure, someone could stick musical notes on a ledger sheet. There is another way to absorb the mood of a jazz riff, though. These books use bright colors, stylized illustrations, font changes, rhythmic text, and onomatopoeia (said sounds) to make you feel like your home is a club and your story time is a jam session.
Arranged for listeners/ readers from younger to older:
Charlie Parker Played Be-Bop by Chris Raschka:
This short book reads like an oral jazz poem. The rhythm and rhyme are much more important than the story. The sweeping illustrations bring the tone of a jazz song directly to even the youngest listeners.
This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt/ Illustrated by R.G. Roth:
Players of various instruments gather together to make music. Kids can sing along with this jazzy take on the traditional “This Old Man” tune. The added section at the end tells who each famous musician featured in the book is.
Cool Daddy Rat by Kristyn Crow/ Illustrated by Mike Lester:
Daddy Rat is a bass player who plays at venues all over New York City. His son keeps sneaking out to hear him play. Will Little Boy Rat find his place in the jazz world that his daddy loves?
When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat by Muriel Harris Weinstein/ Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie: A little girl combines her love of bubble gum with music to improvise a song with Louis Armstrong. There is a biography of Louis Armstrong at the back of the book, along with a definition of the term “scat.”
Jazz by Walter Dean Meyers/ Illustrated by Chris Myers:
This collection of poems and accompanying illustrations strongly evokes the feel of jazz. An introduction about what jazz is and a following glossary of terms and time line give this book substance and context.
Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas. She has worked for eight years in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri. Currently, Anna is the Outreach Education Librarian for the Kansas City Public Library. Her favorite music tends to blend Broadway and jazz. She enjoys theatre, poetry, and the antics of her five-year-old daughter.