The best children’s books about classical music

The Books I Picked & Why

Because

By Mo Williams, Amber Ren

Because

Why this book?

Mo Williams has hit all the right notes in this lushly illustrated book for young readers. How does one grow up to be a classical musician? Well… one beautiful moment leads to another…and another…and another.

Just as in this book, one magical experience in my young life changed everything. Because my 4th grade teacher took our class to see the original Disney Fantasia film, I heard, for the first time, the sound of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Shadows of violin bows danced across the panoramic movie screen as the musicians, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, performed Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Because of how that moment sounded and felt, I found my calling ̶ the violin. That’s how it happens. One precious musical moment leads to another, to places you never dreamed you would go.


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Allegro: A Musical Journey Through 11 Musical Masterpieces

By David W. Miles, Anita Barghigiani

Allegro: A Musical Journey Through 11 Musical Masterpieces

Why this book?

I remember what it was like to be a music student. Like the boy in this book, I sometimes wanted to crumple up my music into a tiny ball and throw it to the floor. Can you relate?

In Allegro, the author quickly gets to the heart of why we practice our instruments. Gorgeous illustrations remind us ̶ the dots on a musical page are merely a tool to transport us to magical places.

A side push-button panel gives us refreshing snippets of 11 classical musical masterpieces. The music is pleasantly in tune, unlike other books with sound buttons I have come across.

I also love the end pages. They are chock full of tidbits about the amazing composers who wrote the music featured in the book.


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Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin

By Tracy Newman, Abigail Halpin

Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin

Why this book?

Not only is Itzhak Perlman considered to be one of the world’s best violinists, he’s also a powerful role model for overcoming adversity.

Growing up, when I listened to Itzhak Perlman’s recordings, I didn’t know that as a young boy, he suffered from polio. So, when I saw him perform for the first time, I didn’t expect to see him enter the stage in a wheelchair. As I marveled at the silvery tone of his violin, I wondered how he navigated through concert halls designed without the physically disabled in mind.

What I love most about this book is that it drives home an important point. Itzhak’s fiery passion for the violin has never been compromised by his disability.

The author and illustrator's notes explain the importance of the changes Itzhak has made to the field of classical music. In Itzhak’s own words, he explains how and why he has worked throughout his lifetime to improve access to public buildings for the physically disabled.


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Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music

By Ana Gerhard, Cecilia Varela

Listen to the Birds: An Introduction to Classical Music

Why this book?

Nature is a perfect place to begin when introducing young people to classical music. Have you ever heard a bird trilling a masterpiece outside your window? So did Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, and many other classical composers. In this beautifully illustrated book, we learn about the birds and the people behind 20 classical pieces.

The book includes a CD and Listening Guide, which describes the pieces and what to listen for. Also included are mini-bios of bird-loving composers who wrote the music, a glossary of musical terms, and a timeline. This beautifully illustrated book was published in 2013. Don’t fret if you do not have a way to play the CD. Professional recordings of the pieces featured in the book are easily found on YouTube.


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A Child's Introduction to the Orchestra: Listen to 37 Selections While You Learn about the Instruments, the Music, and the Composers Who Wrote the Music

By Robert Levine, Meredith Hamilton

A Child's Introduction to the Orchestra: Listen to 37 Selections While You Learn about the Instruments, the Music, and the Composers Who Wrote the Music

Why this book?

This charming, interactive book is a great introduction to the orchestra. Never dry or boring, the text and illustrations are playful and inviting. I love how an enthusiastic narrator named Orchestra Bob guides the reader through the magical world of a symphony orchestra to answer these questions:

What instruments make up a symphony orchestra? Who composed these masterpieces? What were these composers like as children? (There are some quirky stories here!) What does their music sound like?

Included are downloadable musical examples of concepts presented in the book. There’s also a removable poster included, which details the instruments of the orchestra and how musicians and conductor are arranged on the concert stage.


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