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About Music

Ana Gerhard
Margarita Sada, Illustrator

Amazing Water: An Introduction to Classical Music

The works of Vivaldi, Beethoven, Debussy, and others are introduced to children by demonstrating how water—the sea, rivers, fountains, and rainfall—has inspired the composers. 

Roth, Susan L.
Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d’Arezzo
Houghton Mifflin
For many years, Guido d'Arezzo, a young man from Tuscany, has imagined that a system for writing music down can be found. He eventually develops a system of lines and spaces that is still used today. The cut paper illustrations are excellent. Ages 8-12


Augstyn, Frank and Shelley Tanaka
Millbrook Press
A behind-the scenes look at all aspects of ballet and ballet production. Damcers Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Margot Fonteyn are featured. Includes information on Les Sylphides, Giselle, Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lane and Romeo and Juliet.  Grades 7+

Ganeri, Anita
The Young Person's Guide to the Ballet
Harcourt Brace and Co.
This book includes music on CD from The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. Grades 5-8

Laura Lee
A Child's Introduction to Ballet: The Stories, Music and Magic of Classical Dance
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2007
Stories of the composers, dancers, choreographers, ballet steps and positions, and the ballets. Includes an audio CD with 19 selections from the world's great ballets. Illustrated by Meredith Hamilton. K-6


Anderson, M. T.
Strange Mr. Satie
Picture book treatment introduces the life of the French composer, Erik Satie, who spent his entire career challenging established conventions in music. Grades K-3

Bredeson, Carmen
Ten Great American Composers
Short biographies of John Philip Sousa, Scott Joplin, Charles Ives, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, and Ellen Zwilich include a few black and white illustrations, photographs and web sites for further research. Grades 6-12

Carew-Miller, Anna
Beethoven: Great Composer
Mason Crest Publishers
Highly illustrated text gives young readers a glimpse into the life of Beethoven. Grades 3-6

Celenza, Anna Harwell
The Farewell Symphony
A charming story of how Franz Josef Haydn came to write his Farewell Symphony. Included is a CD of the work. Grades 3+

Celenza, Anna Harwell
The Heroic Symphony
Not only a nicely illustrated beginning biography of Beethoven, but the book also includes a CD of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica"). Grades 3+

Cook, Diane
Mozart: World-Famous Composer
Mason Crest Publishers
Highly illustrated text gives young readers a glimpse into the life of Mozart.  Grades 3-6

Gerstein, Mordicai
What Charlie Heard
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
American composer Charles Ives wrote music that expressed all the sounds he heard in the world, but his music was not well received during his lifetime Grades K-3

Kallen, Stuart
Great Composers
Includes readable and informative biographies that are 15 pages or so in length of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Gershwin and Andrew Lloyd Weber. Young Adult

Krull, Kathleen
Lives of the Musicians: Good Times, Bad Times (and What the Neighbors Thought)
Harcourt Brace and Co.
Short, informal biographies of several composers, including Mozart, Brahms, Scott Joplin, Clara Schumann, George Gershwin Sergei Prokofiev, Verdi, Chopin and Tchaikovsky. Ages 9-12

Lazo, Caroline Evensen
Leonard Bernstein: In Love With Music
A biography of the 20th century American composer that includes such chapter headings as "Russian Roots," "Hits and Misses," and "Triumphs and Tragedies." Grades 6-12

McDonough, Yona Zeldis
Who Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?
Grosset and Dunlap
Explores the life and work of this very famous prolific 18th century Austrian composer Grades 3-7

Rachlin, Ann
Famous Children Series
Children's Press
For younger readers, the books in this series tell in story fashion of the early lives of several famous composers, including Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Tchaikovsky. Ages 4-8

Reef, Catherine
Masters of Music Series
Morgan Reynolds Publishing
Two books trace the lives of two 20th century composers, one African-American (William Grant Still), one American-Jewish (George Gershwin).  Grades 6-9

Reich, Susanna
Clara Schumann, Piano Virtuoso
Clarion Books
Describes the life of the German pianist and composer who made her professional debut at age nine and who devoted her life to music and to her family. Grades 5-8

Sabir, C. Ogbu
Scott Joplin: The King of Ragtime
Child's World
Examines the life and accomplishments of the well-known ragtime pianist and composer who wrote over 500 pieces of music, including a ballet and two operas. Grades 3-6

Thompson, Wendy
Composer's World Series
Fairly sophisticated biographies that include excellent reproductions of paintings and etchings depicting the composers, their contemporaries and their surroundings plus some musical excerpts. Ms. Thompson has also written several other composer biographies that are not part of this series. Composers include Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, Debussy, Beethoven and Mozart. Ages 12+

Venezia, Mike
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers Series
Children's Press
Biographies for younger readers use cartoon illustration, photographs, and paintings along with brief text to describe the life and works of renowned composers, including Chopin, Stravinsky, Bach, Bernstein, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. Grades 3-5

Vernon, Roland
Introducing Series
Chelsea House Publishers
The volumes in this series of biographies give good overviews of the lives of several famous composers. Included are lots of drawings, photographs and interesting art plus sidebars that give additional details on people, historical events, and artistic movements mentioned in the text. The series includes volumes on Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Gershwin, Mozart, Stravinsky, Verdi and Vivaldi. Grades 5-8

Winter, Jeanette
Sebastian: A Book about Bach
Harcourt Brace and Co.
Picture book account of how Johann Sebastian Bach survived the sorrows of his childhood and composed the music the world has come to love. Grades K-3


Ardley, Neil
Eyewitness: Music
A comprehensive book about music and sound with excellent photographs. Grades 4-7

Genevieve Helsby with Marin Alsop as your guide
Those Amazing Musical Instruments
Sourcebooks, 2007
From the cello to the drums, this book takes readers on a musical tour, with notes on the history, construction, and sounds of the instruments. Included is an interactive CD-ROM with individual musical samples giving readers an audible example of each instrument. Full color. Preschool - 8

Guy, Suzanne
The Music Box: The Story of Cristofori Bartolomeo
Brunswick Publishing Co.
This book tells the story of Bartolomeo Cristofori, a 17th-century Italian harpsichord maker and musician who invented the piano. Ages 4-8

Reid, Elizabeth
Music Makers: Woodwind Instruments
The Child's World
Simple text and full-page photographs provide basic information on a variety of musical instruments. Grades 2-4

Sharth, Sharon
Music Makers: Saxophones
The Child's World
Simple text and full-page photographs provide basic information on a variety of musical instruments. Grades 2-4

Stevens, Kathryn
Music Makers: Cellos
The Child's World
Simple text and full-page photographs provide basic information on a variety of musical instruments. Grades 2-4

Temple, Bob
Music Makers: Tubas
The Child's World
Simple text and full-page photographs provide basic information on a variety of musical instruments. Grades 2-4

Temple, Bob
Music Makers: Trombones
The Child's World
Simple text and full-page photographs provide basic information on a variety of musical instruments. Grades 2-4

William W. Suggs
Meet the Orchestra
Voyager, 1991
This book illustrated by Karmen Thompson, has been reissued in paperback and offers a lyrical introduction to musical instruments of the orchestra played by a variety of costumed animals. K-3


Nathan, Amy.
Meet the Musicians: From Prodigies (or not) to Pros
Henry Holt and Co.
This collection of interviews with 15 musicians of the New York Philharmonic presents an in-depth look at what it takes to become a professional musician. The book discusses how these musicians chose their instruments and became good enough to join this world-renowned orchestra. Readers will also gain insight into the workings of various instruments, practice tips, and what to look for during a performance. Grades 5-8


Geras, Adele
Random House Book of Opera Stories
Random House
Costume designs and illustrations are included in the author's retellings of The Magic Flute, Aida, Carmen, Cunning Little Vixen, Turandot, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel and Love for Three Oranges. Grades 3-7

Price, Leontyne
Harcourt Brace and Co.
Illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon combine with text for the retelling of Verdi's opera in which the love of an enslaved Ethiopian princess for an Egyptian general brings tragedy to all involved. Grades K-12

Shahrukh, Husain
Barefoot Book of Stories from the Opera
Barefoot Books
Fascinating, dramatic and child-friendly opera tales are illustrated with flamboyant and unique illustrations. Operas included are: The Little Sweep, The Magic Flute, Hansel and Gretel, The Flying Dutchman, La Cenerentola, Orpheus and Eurydice and Christmas Eve.  Grades 3-7

Siberell, Anne
Bravo! Brava!
Oxford University Press
A comprehensive guide to all aspects of opera, including its history, composers and production. The book also includes some synopses of famous operas. Grades 3-7

Wheeler, Lisa
Seadogs: An Epic Ocean Operetta
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Seadog and his canine friends brave storms and pirates at sea in an operetta "composed" by the author. The action takes place in a concert hall and is accompanied by an orchestra. An oversize, colorful book with graphic formats. 


Lithgow, John
Carnival of the Animals
Simon and Schuster
John Lithgow has created a rhyming story to tie the sections of Camille Saint-Saens' work, Carnival of the Animals, together. He is also the narrator on the accompanying CD. This is a delightful book that is both humorous and touching and makes the music come alive. Young Readers

Schulman, Janet
Peter and the Wolf
This book and CD package introduces children to a classical favorite through a new retelling of Prokofiev's musical fairy tale. The story is accompanied by a CD with music performed by the Cincinnati Pops under the direction of Erich Kunzel and narration by Peter A. Thomas. Also included is helpful information about the cast of characters and the musical instruments that represent them. All Ages


Cutietta, Robert A.
Raising Musical Kids
Oxford University Press
A "road map" for parents who want to develop their child's musical talents. 

Machover, Wilma and Marienne Uszler
Sound Choices: Guiding your Child's Musical Experiences
Oxford University Press
An excellent guide for parents who want to guide their child's music training appropriately. Includes sections on choosing an instrument and teacher, age-appropriate music activities for children and ways to deal with gifted children and those with special needs. 

Nathan, Amy
The Young Musician's Survival Guide
Oxford University Press
An informative book that addresses the difficulties young people can encounter when studying a musical instrument. Includes hints and comments from teens as well as professional musicians such as Wynton Marsalia, Paula Robison and James Galway. 


Blackwood, Alan
The Orchestra
Millbrook Press
Contains information on selected composers, orchestras and music history as well as detailed, illustrated descriptions of orchestral instruments.  Grades 3-5

Hamilton, Meredith
The Story of the Orchestra
Black Dog and Leventhal
The book has two sections. The first talks about famous composers and the various periods in musical history; the second describes the instruments of the orchestra. There is an accompanying CD that contains accessible classical musical excerpts.  Grades 4-8

Kallen, Stuart A.
The History of Classical Music
Lucent Books
A readable summary of the history of western music from medieval times. Discuses musical styles, composers and instruments and has informative sidebars. Appropriate for middle school children.  Young Adult

Koscielniak, Bruce
The Story of the Incredible Orchestra
Houghton Mifflin Co.
A fact-filled, entertaining picture book giving the history of various musical instruments and of the orchestra. The descriptions are short but specific. Illustrated. Ages 4-8

Marsalis, Wynton
Marsalis on Music
W.W. Norton and Company
A companion book to Marsalis' video series with the same name. This guide does an excellent job explaining the basics of music theory and form. There are also sections on various composers and musical instruments plus Wynton's own personal guidelines for learning music. A CD with musical examples that illustrate the text is included.  Ages 9-12+

Wilson, Clive
The Kingfisher Young People's Book of Music
Includes one-page articles on any number of musical subjects, including the various periods in music history, musical instruments, music of different lands, various music genres and short composer biographies. It is well-illustrated with pictures and photos. Ages 9-12

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