We (Still) Love You, Yeh, Yeh, Yeh…the Beatles 50 Years On

OK, I admit that I am a confirmed Beatlemaniac, which probably gives you a clue to my age.  However, greatness endures, and the Beatles have certainly established their place in the sweep of music history.  The 50th anniversary of the band’s arrival in America has occasioned a bit of reminiscing on my part…watching The Ed Sullivan Show, my crush on Paul, the posters plastered to my bedroom wall….you get the picture.  However, beyond the teenage hysteria that they caused, the Beatles not only revolutionized popular music but were a seminal force in 1960s popular culture whose influence has endured to this day.  So I’d like to share three recent books on the Beatles, appropriate for elementary, middle, and high school students.

The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) by Kathleen Krull, 9780547509914, Grades 1-4

What better way to introduce this band to our youngest readers than through humor. This picture book focuses on the fan culture that surrounded the Beatles and how they used their own brand of humor, often self-deprecating, to endear themselves to their legions of followers.   Additionally, there is a lot of factual information about the band and its members, including a timeline of their careers, their most popular songs, and brief biographies of each member.  John, Paul, George, and Ringo each get their own double-page spread featuring some of their best quips.  Engaging and attractive artwork will draw in readers.  This would be a fun book for grandparents to share with their grandkids

How the Beatles Changed the World, by Martin Sandler, 9780802735652, Grades 6-9

Martin Sandler has written a number of excellent books for the middle-grade set, and this title is right up there with the best of them.  Sandler focuses on how the Beatles changed not only the music of the ‘60s but also the culture of that time.  Arranged mostly in chronological order, each of the chapters features  a particular area  that the Beatles influenced—music, movies, fashion, religion, and politics, to name a few.  When the pressures of touring forced the Beatles into the studio and away from the public, their music took on even greater creativity.  They are credited with the being the first musicians to create albums as cohesive pieces of art, rather than just collections of songs.  Tons of photographs and splashes of color aim to please the audience for whom the book is intended.

The Beatles:  a Musical Biography (The Story of the Band), by Kate Siobhan Mulligan, 9780313376863, Grades 9 and up

This title, published in 2010, is part of Greenwood’s “The Story of the Band” series.  More scholarly in intent than the above two, and aimed at an older audience, it provides a complete history of the band from its origin in Liverpool  to its breakup a decade later.  There are just a few black and white photographs interspersed throughout, so its purpose is more research than browsing. There is considerable focus on the individual personalities of the four and their relationships with one another.  The appendix includes a thorough chronology and discography.  Several  more recent books for this  age group  focus on the Beatles’ initial impact on American culture, but this title, although a bit older, gives a much more comprehensive picture of the Fab Four.

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