I’m always looking for stories about music to add to our home library, to use in my Preschool Music class or to show my piano students.
I recently asked several other music teachers what their favorite stories and children’s books about music, musicians, composer are. I’m excited to share with you their responses, and I can’t wait to track down these books!
1. Sara Campbell of Sara’s Music Studio recommends The Amazing Incredible Shrinking Piano, by Thornton Cline.
Sara says, “This is a wonderfully heartwarming story about a little girl named Lily who receives a piano for a birthday gift from her grandmother. She wants to play the piano so badly that she gets easily frustrated and often bangs on the keys.
One day she realizes that every time she hits her piano… it starts to shrink! She gets so mad about it shrinking that she hits it again and again, until it’s so small that she can’t even play it anymore. Luckily, Lily learns the secret to help her piano grow back to it’s regular size and she learns to play beautiful music just like her grandmother!
I love this book because it teaches students to respect their instrument. It’s one of the favorites in my piano lobby, and sometimes I’ll even send it home with parents to read to students who I feel need a little extra encouragement just like Lily!”
2. Brandy Woods of Woods Piano Studio suggests The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock.
Brandy says, “Even my most energetic students are drawn into this story about Kandinsky. I use it to preface a listening activity where I play short recordings of well-known classical pieces or piano repertoire and ask my students to use watercolors to create whatever they imagine as they listen to the music. This story is a perfect way to integrate art, encourage creativity, and develop active listening skills.”
3. Tracy Selle of Let’s Talk Piano! recommends Handy Houses by Samantha K. Perkins. You can read her review of it here.
Tracy says, “Handy Houses is a creative way to teach young students keyboard geography. It’s a cute story about 2 houses: a dog house and a people house. Students discover what goes on around each house and every “character” matches up to a key on the piano. This story really helped my struggling preschoolers learn all the piano keys…in about 5 minutes!”
4. Nicola Cantan of Colourful Keys suggests Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido D’Arezzo by Susan Roth.
Nicola says, “This is not only a charming and wonderful musical story, but it’s also beautifully illustrated. I think this book would not only be great for students to read themselves, but for parents to read to younger children – as the pictures are engaging for them too.”
5. Bridey Gibson of Pianosaurus Rex recommends The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield.
Bridey says, “Inspired by a song from one of my favourite bands (“Little Room” by The White Stripes), I love sharing this book with my students. The story shows that hard work and a love of music can lead to amazing things!”
6. Kerrie Crowley of Learning by Step suggests I See A Song by Eric Carle.
Kerrie says, “I like it because you can adapt it so easily for your group (or just with your own children), whether you’re wanting to use it to discuss types of music, or work on composing, etc., or just want to have fun with music.”
7. And finally, 2 of my own favorites: Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes and Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin.
Pete the Cat books are quite entertaining, and many of them have a little tune incorporated into the story that make them really fun to read! My daughter had read Pete the Cat stories for a couple of years before we realized that there is an actual tune that goes along with the little songs he sings. Here’s an example:
Pete the Cat, the super chill protagonist of these stories encounters some unpleasant situations, but he always reacts to them in a calm, cool fashion. The stories have a great moral and Pete’s unruffled approach to life is a good example for his young fans, that might have a more dramatic reaction to similar situations. 🙂
Resources I Love:
Flowkey – This is a really neat subscription based website with interactive piano tutorials. I love using this with all my students, especially those that to prefer to learn away from sheet music. It has hundreds of popular, classical and traditional songs and the monthly fee is comparable to the price of a book. I often hear about parents wanting to learn piano with their kids, and this would be the perfect way for a busy parent to learn.
Sheetmusicplus – This is my go-to spot to look for sheet music online. I most often use the instant digital downloads because it’s so quick – you pay and print. They almost always have print sheet music I’m looking for.
Tonic Tutor – I’ve tried out a number of different web-based theory programs, and this is my favorite! The games are current and engaging. Each student gets a weekly assignment that automatically resets each week. The only upkeep on my part is to set their level, which I update periodically as they progress through their method books. The leveling of the games easily corresponds with a number of different method book series. Use the code kjp7ts to get 50% off your first month.
Books by Anna Harwell Celenza are really great too. https://www.amazon.com/Farewell-Symphony-Anna-Harwell-Celenza/dp/1570914060
Awesome, Susannah! Thanks for sharing! I hadn’t heard of those books, but they look great!