WOW Dozen: Picturebook Biographies of Musicians

By Janelle Mathis, North Texas University

In a recent study that examined picturebook biographies of musicians, I was interested in what they offered young readers about the value of music in the lives of these individuals. Shared in a recently submitted article, I discovered over 40 biographies that spanned across historical eras, forms of music, ages of musicians and how music impacted individuals which often was the focus of the picturebook. Books were read and reread revealing themes of offering hope and comfort, creating identity, sharing tradition, giving voice to marginalized people and sharing examples of determination, persistence and strength. Below, are a dozen titles that reflect the challenges and successes of musicians in narratives that provide young readers with new insights to the significance of music in these lives and the potential influences in their own lives. Continue reading

A Dozen Books Celebrating Children’s Voices and Their Impact

Angelica Serrano, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, AZ

A Dozen Books Celebrating Children’s Voices and their Impact is a set of twelve books, both picturebooks and graphic novels, that embrace and celebrate the voices of children across the globe who have used their voices, creativity and thinking to make a change for themselves and others. This set honors World Children’s Day celebrated on April 30. To commemorate this special holiday, the dozen books selected here resonate the power found within each child as they learn about the world around them and themselves. Children have made tremendous changes for the world and this list commemorates the power that children have within them. We invite you to take a closer look at these books and encourage you to embrace the depicted voices of these children into your hearts as we celebrate their impact on the world. We hope that as you browse through these titles you will be inspired to share them with your children, classrooms, fellow educators and communities so that children’s voices can be known and heard. Children are our greatest teachers and there is so much we can learn from them. It is imperative that we invite children to continue to inspire others with what they have to say. Continue reading

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Marching Towards Justice for All: Part II

by Daliswa Kumalo and Charlene Klassen Endrizzi

This week Daliswa (Didi) and I continue our look back at her African American Read-In experience with third graders, inspired by their exploration of Let the Children March. We share letters sent to students from foot soldiers still residing in Birmingham, Alabama and then consider third graders’ reactions. This insight from Desiree Cueto sums up our overarching intentions. “Our hope is that this work will inspire others to be courageous in their teaching and in their resolve to usher in a new generation of thoughtful and compassionate citizens.” Continue reading

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Marching Towards Justice for All: Part I

by Daliswa Kumalo and Charlene Klassen Endrizzi

Four young people in 1950s fashion lead a parade of protestors.Two years ago, Daliswa “Didi” Kumalo shared a compelling picturebook, Let the Children March, with third graders during our School of Education’s annual African American Read-In. She recently revealed the impetus for crafting this engagement. “When I was younger, my dad always told me that ‘history tends to repeat itself.’ As much as I wished that wasn’t the case, as I get older the connections to the past have never felt closer.” Through our blog post, I (Charlene) reveal Didi’s ability to connect 8- and 9-year-olds to the Civil Rights child foot soldiers featured in Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison‘s award winning book. We believe this literature engagement highlights the value of building bridges to our nation’s past. When teachers initiate hard conversations surrounding unresolved racial struggles, children can begin to consider their power to create much-needed change today. Continue reading

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Cognitive Relationships between Music and Language

Janelle Mathis, University of North Texas

Timbaland cover features an African American child with a cupped hand to his ear, listening to the city generally and specifically to the subtitle text Nighttime Symhony curving into his ear.For this last post focused on the role of literature in supporting music’s importance as a multimodal approach to living and learning in the global society, we consider books that reflect the cognitive support between language and music. The development of both music and language for young learners has been revealed as a somewhat reciprocal process. Recent research, has revealed that the brain regions that process syntax are also responsible for other communicative forms such as music. Concepts about print, conventions of print, rhythm, rhyme and patterned texts are each nurtured by music. Phonological awareness and auditory discrimination of letters and notes, important in language learning, are also important in developing communication through music. Literature offers resources that support these processes. Poetry, obviously, provides rhythm and often rhyme; onomatopoetic words within text can sharpen listening skills; language can help develop a sense of dynamics, tempo, and emotional qualities; and books that point to the importance of listening to the sounds around us link the natural world as a form of communication. Continue reading