Sunday, September 14, 2014

Music Teacher Books: Perfect Pairings

One of my favorite things to do is find good books! Books that sing! Books with beat! Books with extractable rhythms! Books that connect to songs topically!

My friends are probably tired of me telling what book pairs to do in their classes, so I decided to blog about it. I blogged here and here about it before I figured out I should make it a series.

When I was growing up, my mom would take me and my brother to the library all. the. time. Bless her. Each time we went, we would get a stack as high as we could carry (think Library Lil) and carry them home.

A few hours later, we would unearth from our stack of finished books, grab a fresh Dr Pepper or snack, get another pile and dig in! I remember going to the library every week, but it may have been more.

Because my mom was a reading teacher, I had access to her classroom library (think 1000+ books when she started) and our own personal library that was close to the same size. I should have bought stock in Half Price Books. Hindsight.

So suffice it to say I have had a love infatuation with children's books since I was little.

Now my personal and classroom libraries are starting to rival hers, thanks to a windfall from her retirement. (yesssss!!) I probably have a few hundred pins (music and non-music) over the spread of several boards on my Pinterest personal account.

So, if you want a sneak peek at what will be coming to my blog, check out my music teacher "book list" on Pinterest. I'm just starting to "pin over" from my personal boards, so if you follow that board, it will flood your feed with tons of books! Don't say I didn't warn ya. ;-)

I will try to divide each post into two parts - books with topical connections to songs and books with direct connections (as in, a song book or a book to the tune of a song). Since this is the first post, I'm not sure what will happen, so be gentle!

Here we go!

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

I love this simple story about a man that sells caps and gets into a sticky situation with some monkeys. It's such a sweet story and it's very short and accessible to all backgrounds. 

I love the colors of the illustrations, the sneakiness of the monkeys and the resolution of his problem. 

There's even a video to go along with it, but I don't use it because I like to add so-mi to his calls.

To add so-mi, use just the repeated phrase: "Caps for sale! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a ca-ap" (with a 6/8 feel: ss m ss m ss ss s-m). I can't take credit for this awesomeness - it's just the way my mom sang it to me when she read it to me!

Since I use this with Kindergarten, I don't label the solfege, I just sing it the first 2 times and encourage the class to sing it with me after that. "Can you sing it, too?"

The topic is great because you can transition from any hat song to any monkey song, or vice versa. My classes sing "My Hat it Has Three Corners," then read this story, then sing "3 Little Monkeys Swinging from the Tree." Perfect!!

The Star-Spangled Banner Illustrated by Peter Spier

This is a great way to go into detail about the Star-Spangled Banner with your 2nd and 3rd graders.

I tell the story first. (Detailed descriptions and a photo of the actual manuscript are in the back!) And when I get to, "He had to stay on the boat and watch his countrymen fight," I start with the first page and sing it.

The pictures are so helpful in explaining, "What's a rampart" and "What were they looking for?" In the first few pages I usually say, "Do you see it? That thing they are looking for? Don't say it out loud!" and keep reading.

When we get to "that our FLAG was still there!" (chills.) I make a huge deal out of it: "Why does it matter? It's just a flag, right? Why is it important that he could still see the flag in the morning after the battle?"

Sometimes they need a little prompting: "If I took over your fort and saw your flag up there, the first thing I would do is take it down and put up my flag."

Inevitably one of my kids will say, "It means we didn't lose." Ding-ding!

And we finish the book. Sometimes I'll read the whole thing, but most of the time I don't have time to do the additional verses. But the pictures are so good!

I hope you've enjoyed this installment of Perfect Pairings! I look forward to hearing your comments below!

What books do you use in the music room?

p.s. Thanks to Sonya Dehart, Creative Clips and Lovin' Lit for the super cute graphics and paper!


  1. I'm so excited to see more posts in this series- what a wonderful idea! I'm pretty obsessed with books myself and my two year olds at home are too. Off to follow your board on Pinterest! Thanks for sharing!