8 by Eight
This month's 8 by Eight list focuses on books about music.
Books, music, and dancing go hand and hand. Not convinced? Let me try to change your mind. First, think about nursery rhymes. Their rhythm and rhyme are great for baby ears. Repetition in nursery rhymes, their sing-song quality, and their inclusion of nonsense words allows babies to focus on sounds. Babies need sounds to make words. Consider singing some of your board books, even if they aren't technically songs. Singing can elongate vowels, encourages repetition, and is fun! Second, there are plenty of great books out there that do specifically focus on music and encourage dancing. Who said reading needed to be a stationary activity? Sing your books and dance around the room. All of these activities and entertainment help with language development.
Sandra Boynton's Barnyard Dance is one of my favorite books to read to babies. The text demands movement, "Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a barnyard dance?" From there you bow, spin, slide, and make lots of great animal sounds. I like to repeat the chorus to give young readers a chance to join in.
In Babies Dancing, you'll have even more dancing opportunities as you learn to groove, samba, and step dance.
Sing, by Joe Raposa and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, starts as a wordless book and then introduces the lyrics to "Sing." Yes, that one, "Sing, sing a song. Soung out loud." You probably already know the rest. Besides giving you a chance to share music with your reader, the illustrations also show how inspiring music can be.
Salsa Lullaby is a new favorite from Jen Arena. The book starts with dancing and singing and ends with a quiet sleep, sleep, sleep. The book weaves Spanish and English together throughout the story and contains a short glossary in the back.
Like Babies Dancing, Let's Dance celebrates dances from around the world. This book, too, focuses on the movement and encourages readers to wiggle hips, jiggity-jog, glide and slide until it starts winding down using ballet and ending in sleep. The extra pages at the back include information about the various dancing styles represented. Maine Diaz's vibrant illustrations are fantastic.
Mole Music is a long-time personal favorite as it celebrates the wide-ranging impact music can have as well as reminds us that music transcends boundaries and unites us regardless of language. Mole, who lives underground, learns to play the violin and is not aware of the world above. Talk with young readers about the dual story happening on each page.
Want to introduce your music enthusiast to opera? There are several illustrated options, including Chris Raschka's illustrated version of The Magic Flute by Mozart. The book summarizes every scene with short descriptive text, illustrated panels, and dialogue. There is a lot going on across each page, so this book is recommended for older readers who will enjoy teasing out the story from the textual and visual components.
Finally, Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln is another story about music and inspiration for emerging readers. Based on a true story, Teresa, the "Piano Girl" is invited to play for President Lincoln at the White House. Music brings comfort in times of grief and gives courage in "dark and light moments of hope." The text and historical note are by Margarita Engle and the lovely, dancing illustrations are by artist Rafael López.