Home > News & Media > Dog-Eared Blog > A Musical Bibliography in Celebration of Black History Month

A Musical Bibliography in Celebration of Black History Month

Blues musicians

Let the Metropolitan Library System help you celebrate Black History Month.  Rhythmically Speaking will be visiting several of our libraries throughout the month of February with their performance of “Yes Indeedy” Mrs. Hannah Atkins

And if you are looking for something to do with the kiddos, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic’s February Discovery Series performance is going to celebrate Black History Month with orchestral arrangements of Blues, Gospel, Jazz, and Rap on Sunday, February 21 at 2pm.  Here are some books and digital songs to pique your interest before the performance or to learn more about a new favorite musician.


Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite by Anna Harwell Celenza (Grades 2-5)

Tells the story of how jazz composer and musician Duke Ellington, along with Billy Strayhorn, created his jazz composition based on Tchaikovsky's famous Nutcracker Suite ballet. Includes author's note and CD recording of Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite.

Louis Armstrong: Jazz Legend by Terry Collins (Grades 4-8)

Follow Louis Armstrong—also known as Satchmo—in this graphic novel biography. We flash back to his childhood, when he’s sent to the Colored Waifs’ Home for Boys (and is introduced to the cornet), before moving forward to his teen years and then onto his illustrious career.

History of Hip Hop by Melanie Cornish (Grades 3-7)

Filled with interesting facts, you can learn about the history of Hip Hop from Grandmaster Flash to Notorious B.I.G.

Swing Sisters: the Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans (Grades 2-5)

This is the story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an all-girl swing band from Piney Woods Country Life School for African American orphans. This groundbreaking interracial, all-female jazz band chipped away at racist and sexist barriers, and made music that reminded audiences how great it feels to be alive.

This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt (Grades 1-5)

Presents an introduction to jazz music and nine well-known jazz musicians, set to the rhythm of the traditional song, "This Old Man." Includes brief facts about each musician.

Oscar Lives Next Door by Bonnie Farmer (PreK-3rd grade)

Long before Oscar Peterson became a virtuoso jazz pianist, he was a boy who loved to play the trumpet. When a bout of childhood tuberculosis weakened his lungs, Oscar could no longer play his beloved instrument. He took up piano and the rest is history: Oscar went on to become an international jazz piano sensation.

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat by Nikki Giovanni (Grades 4-8)

A fantastic collection of rhythm, rhymes, and illustrations. With songs and poetry written by Queen Latifah, Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, A Tribe Called Quest, and many more, this book and accompanying CD will be loved by children and their parents.

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill (Grades 3-5)

The story of how Hip Hop was born on a hot summer day in the South Bronx in 1973. Clive Campbell, calling himself DJ Kool Herc, spun records at a back-to-school party in a way no one had heard before.

The Blues Singers: 10 Who Rocked the World by Julius Lester (Grades 3-6)

This book is an introduction to some of the most influential blues singers. Told through the voice of a grandfather passing along his love and knowledge of the Blues to his granddaughter.

Jazz A-B-Z by Wynton Marsalis (Grades 4-8)

An insider's A to Z guide through the greats of jazz accompanied by large, colorful portraits.

Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney (K-4th grade)

''Scat Cat Monroe'' narrates a celebration of the life and career of the first lady of song, noting her distinctive style and far-ranging impact upon contemporary music.

The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy is Enlightening by Christopher Raschka (Grades 3-6)

A beautifully illustrated biography of Sun Ra, a jazz musician who said that he came from Saturn. He loved music because it was the one thing on Earth that was most like the stars and he believed it was what holds us all together.

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown (Grades K-5)

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. Follows Melba from the age of 7 when she fell in love with the trombone through her teen years when she joined a band led by trumpet player Gerald Wilson and toured the country and into adulthood. Overcoming obstacles of race and gender, Melba went on to become a famous trombone player and arranged music for many of the jazz greats.

Before John was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane by . Carole Boston Weatherford (Grades K-4th)

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. Follows John Coltrane during his childhood in the South during the 1930s and how it shaped his sound as a musician.

Freegal songs:


Kristin Williamson

Kristin Williamson's picture

In Oklahoma City, born and raised, in the backyard is where I spent most of my days.
Chillin' out, reading, playing with the dogs, or climbing up trees or trying to catch frogs.
When I was a little older, but still in school,
I started looking around for a job that I thought might be cool.
I tried music stores, Starbucks, office jobs, and then finally....I thought, "Nah, forget those...Let's try the library."

I started as a page in Edmond and then it became clear,
This was the greatest job, and not just for Senior year.
Over the next several years, I moved up through the system.
From page, to circ clerk, to librarian for children.
I went and got my Masters in LIS;
I kept working hard and trying to do my best.

Now I still do programs and school visits and festivals,
Work with the community and sometimes train other professionals,
Help plan summer reading, every day is just a peach.
And that's what I do as the Children's Coordinator in Outreach

Site Feedback