It’s important to us that our children develop a love and appreciation for good music, so we often listen to classical music at home and in the car, and were happy to study the orchestra last semester in our Classical Conversations group. Naturally, we also read a lot of good books about music, so I thought I’d share a few of our favorites:
Story of the Orchestra : Listen While You Learn About the Instruments, the Music and the Composers Who Wrote the Music! is an excellent overview of different time periods, styles, and composers of musical history. Best of all, the book comes with a CD and the book tells you which track to play as you read each part, so the children can, for example, be listening to one of Mozart’s famous pieces while hearing a short biography and description of his music. I think this book is a really excellent resource, and can be read with varying levels of detail, making it appropriate for children of a wide variety of ages.
The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra follows a similar format, presenting an overview of the instruments in the orchestra, major sub-genres of classical music, and highlighting composers. It also comes with a CD, but is not designed to be read along with the CD. The CD contains Benjamin Britten’s composition by the same name as the book, which I think is a very helpful way for kids to hear the differences in instrument families as well as enjoying a rousing and beautiful piece of music. This book is different enough from The Story of the Orchestra that I would recommend both.
Animal Orchestra is a counting book that also has great illustrations of different instruments. Although my kids are a little older, Sarah is not too old for counting books, and neither am I. 🙂 Mostly, I like this book for the illustrations and the reinforcement of the names of instruments. The idea of having animals play the instruments adds a fun layer, and it’s fun to talk about why different animals might have the personality to prefer different instruments, just to be silly.
The Violin Close Up is a really great book of beautiful black and white photographs of the different parts of a violin. The kids, especially Jack who loves string instruments, have really enjoyed this book and have learned a lot about the parts of a violin and the mechanics of how the instrument works. If you have a child who is learning to play the violin, I would highly recommend this book.
Meet the Orchestra is another book of animals playing instruments,although this one goes into a lot more detail about what each section does and how the instruments differ than Animal Orchestra does. There are also far more instruments covered. I like how the book describes the sound each instrument makes using imaginative terms. For example, the bassoon “chats and chuckles with the other instruments…chugging along like a tough little engine.” I think that gets kids in the mindset of using descriptive language about music but gives them room to use their own imaginations to describe what they hear.
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin has been one of our favorites for a long time, with its interesting illustrations and catchy rhyming text. This book also uses imaginative language to describe the sounds instruments make, and also introduces other musical terms such as what we call different groups of musicians playing together (duet, trio, octet, and so forth), which is very helpful.
The Young Person’s Guide to the Opera: With Music from the Great Operas is similar to the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. It follows the same format and presents a good overview of the history and development of opera as a genre, as well as information about famous opera composers and their most well-known operas.
These are some of our favorite books about music, but I’m sure I’ve missed some good ones! What other books about music for kids would you recommend?
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