100 years ago this month, two great jazz musicians were born: Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie. Here are some children’s books and recordings that celebrate their music:
Dizzy by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Sean Qualls
After arriving in New York, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was soon playing with the famous Cab Calloway Band, but his clowning around got him fired. Dizzy kept trying out his new music which took over the world of jazz. He had invented “bebop!”
Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
A poem from the author’s first collection of poetry pays tribute to the community of talented artists that frequented her childhood home.
I See the Rhythm by Toyomi Igus, illustrated by Michele Wood
Chronicles and captures poetically the history, mood, and movement of African American music.
Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Francis Vallejo
When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day. Francis Vallejo’s vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author’s note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane’s famous photograph.
Jazz for Kids: Everybody’s Boppin’ featuring various artists
This introduction to jazz includes music by greats like Dizzy Gillespie as well as original songs.
Jazz on a Saturday Night by Leo & Diane Dillon
If you have ever been lucky enough to hear great jazz, then you will understand the pure magic of this book. Leo and Diane Dillon use bright colors and musical patterns that make music skip off the page in this toe-tapping homage to many jazz greats. From Miles Davis and Charlie Parker to Ella Fitzgerald, here is a dream team sure to knock your socks off. Learn about this popular music form and read a biography of each player pictured-and then hear each instrument play on a specially produced CD. What’s the featured song? “Jazz on a Saturday Night,” written and recorded to accompany this book.
Portraits of African-American Heroes by Tanya Bolden
A stunningly beautiful picture book profiles twenty outstanding African-Americans with a three-page biography and black-and-white portrait of each, ranging from historical to contemporary figures who made a difference in their field.