• Michael

5 Books For Summer Reading in Tacoma: Music Edition

UGH. Summer is here, and we're all wearing masks / freaking out about staying 6 feet apart from one another. Weird times.


You know what's NOT out of place for summer, though? Summer reading, and summer movies. This post will cover books; next week I'll share some of my favorite summer music movies.


Now let's talk reading. I don't even need to go into the evidence in support of reading for and to kids and teenagers. We all know by now just how beneficial it is.


I used to work in an elementary school, so I have personal experience with several of the books on this list.


If you're trying to plant the music bug in your kiddo (which, you should be doing; just like reading, research is CLEAR that musical practice is a boon for kids), these are an easy, covert way to do it.


With that said, get out your hammock (in the shade; as I write, it's supposed to be 88 degrees today) and cuddle up with your kiddo.



(All of these books can be easily found on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble)



"88 Instruments"

Chris Barton

Illustrated by Louis Thomas



This is honestly such a fun book. It's a quick read about a kid who journeys with his parents to a music store. At the music store, He's quickly inundated with 88 instruments to choose from (88 is the number of keys on a piano, btw). The best part of this book is how it reads out loud: lots of rhythms and onomanapia to excite you and your kiddo:


"Do I pick the squeeziest? The wheeziest? The easiest and breeziest? But how about the slideyest…the squonkiest…the blowiest…?"






"Charlie Parker Played Be Bop"

Chris Raschka



A really cool introduction to, generally speaking, jazz music and improvisation, as well as the musical giant that is Charlie Parker. Just like "88 instruments", the book is full of rhythm and pulse such that it sounds like actual music when you read it aloud.


beware, though; It's a weird one, and you have to read it with spunk in order to get the full effect.






"Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin!"

Lloyd Moss

Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman



My favorite on the list, probably because I come from an orchestral background myself, having played both piano and percussion in the PLU symphony orchestra for years. I love the art style here, and I love the way in which the author introduces the instruments of the symphony orchestra one at a time. HIGHLY recommend.


"Next, a TRUMPET comes along, and sings and stings its swinging song. It joins TROMBONE, no more alone, and ONE and TWO-O, they're a DUO."





"Passing the Music Down"

Sarah Sullivan

Illustrated by Barry Root


Another great one, especially if you want to get your kiddo exposed to other folks around the world and how they live. This book tells the story of an Appalachian kid and his friendship with an older fiddler. As their friendship grows, so does the boy's ability on the fiddle. Really heartwarming stuff.


"Soon the boy and his family are putting down roots in the next county over from the old man's farm. On cold December nights they fiddle by the fire, as snow settled deep against the fence, and the boy settles deep inside the Music. The old man shares his stories. They've become the best of friends."





"Before John Was a Jazz Giant"

Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by Sean Qualls


I LOVE the art style of this book. One of my favorite things about kids books, in fact, is the artwork. This is no exception. It humanizes John Coltrane, the jazz saxophonist and composer from the late forties - early sixties. The genius of Coltrane can't be over-stated, and I love how this book takes his legend and shrinks it down to kid-size. The idea, I hope, is that kids will see that they too can become heroic in whatever they choose to do later in life.


"Before John was a jazz giant, he heard hambones knocking in Grandma's pots, Daddy strumming the ukulele, and Mama cranking the phonograph."


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