Music and Literature

Last fall, my soon-to-be kindergartener was struggling to learn all of the information she needed to know before starting school including our phone numbers, address, bus number, etc.  I quickly realized that singing the information to her in a catchy tune was the easiest way for her to absorb it.

Music can have a powerful effect on little learners.  With my children attending an artful learning school and with several years of experience teaching preschoolers, I’ve been fortunate to see first-hand the benefits of integrating arts into the daily curriculum.  Music not only boosts memory, but it also makes learning more engaging and fun. Although I’m not the slightest bit musically talented, the kids don’t seem to notice but are instead just excited to join in!  For this reason I was very interested to learn about Cantata Learning’s picture books.

The Cantata Learning series includes books and ebooks for grades PK – 3 with a variety of topics all written to music.  Subjects range from shapes and weather to higher level topics such as planets or presidents.  Most books come with CDs, but the music can also be found on iTunes or streamed from the Cantata Learning website.

Some of my favorites include:



Happy and you Know It retold by Steven Anderson

From Tadpole to Frog by Steven Anderson

I’ll Share by Jenna Laffin

Brush your Grizzly Bear Grin by David I.A. Mason

In my search for musically inspired books I also found some other great reads that will get students of all ages excited about music:



Trombone Shorty is an autobiography by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews that tells the story of his childhood experiences as a musical prodigy.  The culture of his hometown of New Orleans comes alive through the rich text and beautiful pictures by renowned illustrator, Brian Collier.  This is a great multicultural book that teaches children that hard work and determination pays off.




Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly is about a girl named Apple who is struggling to fit in with the kids at school.  Apple moved to Louisiana with her mom from the Philippines and is now experiencing insecurities about being different. Things get worse when a group of boys add her name to the Dog Log, a list of the most unpopular girls.  To escape the difficulties at school Apple tries to save enough money for a guitar so she can use music, and her dad’s Beatles cassette tape, as an escape from her problems.  Fortunately for Apple she meets some true friends that teach her she’s perfect just the way she is.

The Scar Boys

In the book, The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos, the narrator tells us his story through an essay required for his college entrance exam.  The first page of this book will grab the attention of any reader as Harry describes his most traumatic memory.  As a young boy Harry was tied to a tree by a group of bullies.  The tree was struck by lighting and the fire it caused severely burns Harry’s face and neck leaving ugly scars.  In the years following the accident Harry struggles with accepting his new appearance and begins to shut down socially.  When the future starts to look bleak, a charismatic new friend steps in forcing Harry to start living life again.  Together the boys build a strong bond through music in the form of a punk rock band called The Scar Boys.



Blogger: Lisa K.