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Tuesday, July 18, 2023

My Favorite Books for Each Grade in Elementary Music

Storybooks are such a great way to tap into young students' creativity and imagination, create cross-curricular and real world connections to musical concepts, and provide windows and mirrors into students' own identities and others' in elementary music. Here are some of my favorite books for each grade level (it's definitely hard to narrow it down) that I would recommend every elementary music teacher get for their classrooms- if you don't have these already, add them to your wish list!

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Kindergarten: Froggy Gets Dressed

No book gets my Kindergartners laughing more than this one! I love using this book to add instrument timbres- here is a full blog post I wrote with the lesson plans I use.

1st grade: Nine-in-One, Grr! Grr!

I love using this story with 1st grade to practice sol-mi singing and instrument playing, and it's a great way to introduce them to Hmong culture at the same time. The students love the story and go around singing the song for weeks afterwards! Here's the full lesson plan I use with the book.

2nd/ 3rd grade: My Family Plays Music

This book is absolutely amazing for exploring different genres in an active and engaging way, and the 2nd-3rd grade age is perfect for this book. I've used this as sub plans before as well and it works great for that, so this set of lessons is very versatile! Here's the blog post with my full lesson plans.

4th/ 5th grade: Because

This book is the perfect segue to songwriting, and/ or conversations about "why we musick", with upper elementary. Although students do a lot of composing in the younger grades, 4th and 5th graders really get into more melodic writing, so I love using this book to get students thinking of themselves as songwriters- reading and discussing the story first helps many of my students think more about creating truly musical melodies rather than just following a formula to put notes on a page (and it also happens to be a great way to quickly review orchestral instruments since they are pictured in the book). 

6th grade: The Roots of Rap

I don't read this book aloud to the class or anything, but I keep it in my classroom bookshelf and I *may or may not* strategically place it in a noticeable spot whenever my 6th graders are doing centers and picking books from the shelf- they never fail to get excited when they "discover" it and on multiple occasions I've had students run around the room showing it to their friends at other stations, and telling them to make sure to check it out when they get to the books. I also refer them to this book whenever they ask about a specific artist or a question about the history/ pillars of hip-hop, and I do pull it out to show them some specific pages with pictures of specific people etc when I am introducing our hip-hop unit. I have several children's books about hip-hop but this is the one my 6th graders love the most and don't find childish. Here is my blog post on my lessons to introduce hip-hop in elementary music.

Of course there are SO MANY more books, especially for the younger grades, that I feel terrible about not mentioning because my students and I love them so much too! I have a lot more books for K-2 grades, complete with accompanying lesson plans, in this post.

What are your favorite books to use with specific grade levels? I'd love to hear them in the comments, I'm always on the hunt for new ones to add to my list!

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