When it comes to introducing young children to jazz, one can find many great resources online as well as in the library. Here are some of them. I hope this irresistible music will get you and your young ones swinging.
Books and CDs
Make sure to get the books as kits with CDs or as Audiobooks. Words and pictures are great, but must be combined with audio!
- Jazz by Walter Dean Myers is a book of jazz poems that should be listened to or read out loud to be fully appreciated. Amazing pictures by Christopher Myers capture the energy and the bit of music. The book is for older kids (ages 8-12)
- Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Christopher Raschka. Just book itself is not enough, it must be accompanied by CD. There is a comment by Chris Raschka, and original performance of A Night In Tunisia by Charlie Parker, but most importantly the performance of narrator, Richard Allen, really brings out the rhythm of the poem which is supposed to accompany the music. Unfortunately, the only place I found book with CD (as a kit) was a… library! So, try your local library, or check out performance on YouTube from episode of Between the Lions. This book is officially for ages 5-6, but I bet the younger children will fully appreciate the bit too!
- Nicky’s Jazz for Kids CD has a delightful collection of jazz classics, like A-Tisket, A-Tasket by Ella Fitzgerald, Ten Feet Off the Ground by Louis Armstrong, and The Umbrella Man by Dizzy Gillespie just to name a few. You’ll find yourself dancing with your kid!
- Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite book by Anna Harwell Celenza is the story of Ellington’s creation of The Nutcracker Suite. The book is for older readers (ages 6-9.) If your child is familiar with Tchaikovsky’s ballet it might be fun to introduce her to the jazz version. Especially, if she has a favorite part, like Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, it might be interesting to compare it with Ellington’s version. Ask your child if it reminds her of the original one.
Most importantly, have fun with any jazz music you listen to with your kid!