Advertisement. Click on the ad for more information.
Children's Literature Network Twitter Facebook Google +

Reading List menu

suggested by Vicki Palmquist, children's literature enthusiast

If you'd like to interest your children in classical music, or you have plans to attend the symphony, or you'd like to supplement lessons about composers, each of these books is terrific. Enjoy!

Reading List menu
The Philharmonic Gets Dressed The Philharmonic Gets Dressed — written by Karla Kuskin — illustrated byMarc Simont

The timpanist in his underwear?Yes, indeed. Each member of the orchestra, 105 men and women, prepare for their part in creating a symphony. From the early evening when the Philharmonic dresses in their underwear, black-and-white clothing, and their outerwear, to their arrival at the concert hall, as Ms. Kuskin writes, "They are the members of the Philharmonic Orchestra, and their work is to play. Beautifully."
Bach's Big Adventure Bach's Big Adventure — written by Sallie Jane Ketcham — illustrated by TimothyBush

In this delightful tale "based on a story that Bach liked to tell,"CLN member Sallie Jane Ketcham follows the young Johann Sebastian Bach as he travels 30 miles on foot to hear master organist Jan Adam Reincken. Bach's older brother has told Sebastian (as he is called) that he is not the greatest organist in Germany, Reincken is. His ego bruised, Bach must hear for himself. Humbled by Reincken's playing, the boy is encouraged when the master invites him to play a duet.
Handel Who Knew What He Liked Handel: Who Knew What He Liked — written by M.T. Anderson — illustrated by KevinHawkes

In a somewhat irreverent look at the life of George Fredric Handel, author Anderson and illustrator Hawkes combine their talents to provide a biography that is fun to read, subtly educational, and well-researched. Debunking some of the myths that have grown up around Handel (including the standing ovation during the HallelujahChorus), defining musical terminology, and providing musical asides, the duo has created a book that is lively enough to intrigue children.
The Farewell Symphony The Farewell Symphony — written by Anna HarwellCelenza and illustrated by JoAnn E. Kitchel

When Joseph Haydn and the court musicians he directs must travel to the summer home of Prince Nicholas of Austria, the Prince does not allow the musicians to bring their families. Summer grows long, the months pass by, and still the Prince shows no signs of returning to court. The musicians are lonely and unhappy. Haydn's solution is to compose Symphony No. 45 in F minor, popularly known as "The Farewell Symphony."He conveys his orchestra's emotions to the Prince and each musician leaves the stage one by one. With an accompanying CD, this story is told through beautiful text and illustrations. It's a wonderful way to help listeners understand the intent behind the music.
Carnival of the Animals:by Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals:by Saint-Saens — commentary by Barrie CarsonTurner, illustrated by Sue Williams, and music by Camille Saint-Saens

Originally written as a joke to entertain his pupils, parodying the styles of the popular composers of his day, Camille Saint-Saens created the Carnival of the Animals and it has become one of his most enduring works, perhaps because it so appealing to children. The several movements feature different animals, which the illustrator portrays in bright colors. A CD accompanies this book and Turner's commentary makes it easy to share the ideas behind the music with reader and listener.
Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin — written byLloyd Moss and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Winner of a Caldecott Honor, this is a good introduction to the various instruments of the orchestra. Through rhyming couplets, Moss cleverly adds one instrument at a time, elaborating on the concepts of a solo, duo, and trio. A vibrant book, both in text and illustrations, this is fun to share with one child or many.
What CharlieHeard What Charlie Heard — written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein

A picture-book biography of composer Charles Ives, Mordicai Gerstein captures this daring artist who created music of which Gerstein says, "most people didn't know how to listen to it. Some thought it was a joke. Others just heard noise and got angry." Layering his illustgrations in the same way that Ives layered his compositions,Gerstein successfully conveys the inspirations and results of Ives' music.
Sing Me a Story Sing Me a Story — written and illustrated by Jane Rosenberg

Ms. Rosenberg uses intriguing illustrations and tempting text to provide synopses of fifteen operas: Aida, La Boheme, Die Fledermaus, The Magic Flute, Pagliacci, The Tales of Hoffman, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Carmen, The Barber of Seville, The Daughter of the Regiment, L'Enfant et les Sortileges, Hansel and Gretel, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, The Love for Three Oranges, and Porgy and Bess. Opera is sometimes considered to be the most inaccessible music for children...try this book.
Beethoven Lives Upstairs Beethoven Lives Upstairs — written by BarbaraNichol and illustrated byScott Cameron

"...I write, Uncle, because something terrible has happened. A madman has moved into our house." Christoph, a boy living in Vienna in 1822, writes to his Uncle Karl about the family's new boarder, Ludwig vanBeethoven. The man is a slob, he's bad-tempered, and he makes terrible noises. The composer is deaf and he scares Christoph. Nichol deftly shows the reader how this young boy comes to appreciate Beethoven's music. Read this while listening to Beethoven's music. The beautiful illustrations and the completely human story will hold children's attention.
Summertime Summertime — written byDuBose and Dorothy Heyward, illustrated by Mike Wimmer, and based on music composed by George and Ira Gershwin

With luminous illustrations, Mike Wimmer depicts a Southern family and their enjoyment of the summer. It's a good book for discussing how music can be inspired by feeling, surrounding, and events. Although the entirety of Porgy and Bess is an adult tale, this song shows how composers can convey the heat, smells, and emotions of summer through lyrics and music.
TchaikovskyDiscovers America Tchaikovsky Discovers America — written by Esther Kalman and illustrated by Laura Fernandez and RickJacobson

In 1891, Tchaikovsky visits America. Young Eugenia, the daughter of Russian emigrés who have named their daughter after their favorite opera, Eugene Onegin, is taken to Carnegie Hall to hear Tchaikovsky conduct a performance of his music. Days later, Eugenia meets Tchaikovsky on a train to Niagara Falls and converses with him, discovering that he is homesick. It is near the end of Tchaikovsky's life and we are priviledged to see this great man working onThe Nutcracker. In a deft blend of fact, fiction, and glorious illustrations, the reader is introduced to the works and character of one of the great composers.