Early Elementary Books

Theme: The World of Music and the Arts

Dia's Story Cloth: The Hmong People's Journey to Freedom - (ISBN: 978-0780779013 )

by Dia Cha

A young Hmong girl explains her family’s journey from the mountains of China into Laos and from there during war time to a new life in the U.S. The illustrations are the acclaimed Hmong folk quilting, pan dau, and in this case, the art itself tells the story of an entire ethnic group who are among America’s newest immigrants.

Diego - (ISBN: 978-0679856177 )

by Jonah Winter

The famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera’s early life and vivid painting style is captured in the text and illustrations of this bilingual (Spanish and English) picture book. Besides the tiny reproductions of pieces of Rivera’s art, the background graphics recreate the vivid culture of Mexico with folklore illustrations and its characteristic bright colors.

Ellington Was Not a Street - (ISBN: 978-0689828843 )

by Ntozake Shange

In this compelling autobiographical poem, Shange reminisces about her childhood home and the famous musicians, artists, and thinkers who marched through its doors as she was growing up. Biographical details of each famous man who frequented her family home are included along with gorgeous award-winning illustrations.

Gabriella's Song - (ISBN: 978-0689841750 )

by Candace Fleming

A little girl’s hums a tune she hears in everyday Viennese life, the water lapping, clothes drying, her mother speaking. Her original creation is picked up by various people in the artistic city of Vienna; it is passed along from shop people to a gondolier to a “famous” composer who lacks inspiration at the moment he hears the tune floating through his window. Her tune saves the day for him and his music!

Horace and Morris Join the Chorus: But What About Delores - (ISBN: 978-1416906162 )

by James Howe

Favorite mouse characters Horace and Morris audition for a chorus along with their friend Delores who can’t sing. Her note of plea to the conductor Moustro Provolone to accept her to the singing group anyway is so eloquent that it is transformed into the lyrics for a new piece!

Meet the Orchestra - (ISBN: 978-0152002220 )

by Ann Hayes

Readers learn about the families of woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion as they find out the members of each group and the sounds of each individual instrument. With delightful animal figures as players in the orchestra, children will enjoy leafing through all the pages of information and learn a great deal besides.

Seen Art? - (ISBN: 978-0670059867 )

by Jon Scieszka

A young boy is looking for his friend Art in a museum in New York, but every time he asks about art, people show him more and more marvelous works of art. Although he explores art in a variety of media, he does not find his friend until the very end. He leaves much richer and more thankful for his marvelous experience with another part of the world he had not looked into before. Visit an art museum with a friend or family member.

The Philharmonic Gets Dressed - (ISBN: 978-0064431248 )

by Karla Kuskin

Each member of the orchestra bathes, primps, combs, and dresses before his or her final entrance onto the stage. When the hundred or more people raise their instruments and begin together, the results of all the preparations are marvelous!

When Marian Sang - (ISBN: 978-0439269674 )

by Pam Munoz Ryan

This simple biography of the life of African American Marion Anderson traces her beginnings in a church choir through the barriers of racism to great success and fame with the Metropolitan Opera in NY City. Featuring prose punctuated with rhythm, song lyrics, and painting-quality illustrations, the book ends up with a timeline and lists of her recordings.

Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores - (ISBN: 978-0689856754 )

by James Howe

Steal Back the Mona Lisa - (ISBN: 978-0152053680 )

by Meghan McCarthy

The Shape Game - (ISBN: 978-0552546966 )

by Anthony Browne

This Land is Your Land - (ISBN: 0316065641)

by Woody Guthrie

Activities for this Theme

Use scraps from fabric, scrapbooking, and craft projects to make a family collage.

Make some cuddly, friendly "yarn bugs"  using sticks and yarn.

Use chalk and string to create a work of art.

Listen to audio recordings of  Woody Guthrie’s folksongs and enjoy them with the entire family.

Make a group sculpture with your entire family.

To enjoy musical activities with your family, try this book and its accompanying CD for ideas: 101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children (ISBN-13: 978-0876592908) by Abigail Flesch Connors.

Take a virtual tour of a modern art museum with your family.